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On Fire

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At night, I wake up with the sheets soakin' wet
And a freight train runnin' through the middle of my head
Only you can cool my desire

Oh, oh, oh
I'm on fire*©

 

As Paul emerges from the house, Richard has a truly hard time trying to keep his air cool and his jaw where it belongs, but the traitorous thing just threatens to drop despite his best efforts. What he sees is Paul strutting out of Till's house in all his butt-naked glory, almost painfully slim, hair in a mess, and with his private parts dangling happily as he bounces down the porch steps.

It's true, there's been a heatwave these past several weeks, and Richard himself has been sporting as few clothes as possible lately, but this… He keeps staring, unable to draw his eyes away both because he's generally surprised by seeing people coming to the dinner table wearing their birth suit and because this particular naked person was in his own bed just the other day; hell, there's a mark he left on Paul's shoulder, still visible, a bluey-yellowish testament of his passion, and now here he is, showing it off to everyone around, allowing everyone around to see him like this…

"That's his normal attire."

A voice comes from his right breaking the spell Richard's under, and he is finally able to tear his incredulous gaze off the outrageous sight. Paul's lanky buddy, Flake, is the one occupying the seat next to him at the table, and as he says that, still looking at Paul, he sounds both slightly exasperated and somewhat reconciled. The sun glimmers on the lenses of his glasses as he turns to give Richard a glance which, accompanied by a subtle shrug, says that he's not particularly pleased with such order of things but has no other option but to get over it. Knowing Paul – not that they've been acquainted for all that long, but sleeping with a person does assist in knowing one better much faster – there's most likely no other option but to either take it or leave it. Paul's eccentric nature complemented by his waywardness and stubbornness makes it nigh on impossible to deal with him when he's made his mind about something. Personally, Richard sort of admires this combination of character traits, but certainly not when he has to deal with any of them himself. They have known each other but for a few months, but it's also been enough to give him the idea of just what an unbearable little shit Paul can be when he puts his mind to it.

"He often does that, huh?" Richard asks meanwhile, still flabbergasted and not knowing what to do with his eyes.

His gaze is drawn to Paul's naked body as if by a magnet, his petite build and all those bones prominent in various places making Richard feel both hot and cold at the same time. It would already be enough to make him horny just to see the man in certain stages of undress, but like this, with his dick and balls shamelessly exposed, the fair patch of hair covering the very base of it…

Richard swallows with difficulty, his throat suddenly feeling too dry, eyes pinned to that very same cock he had in his own mouth just the other day and those balls, heavy in his own hand as he massaged them drawing out sounds from Paul like a musician would from his instrument of trade. Richard feels his cheeks burn as those memories find their way into his head, understanding that he is staring, understanding that this little piece of shit knows perfectly well just what exactly he's doing to him cat-walking around naked as his name day, understanding that perhaps all the rest of their friends also see him stare with an utterly stupefied expression on his face; he damn well realises it all but he can barely move a muscle in his entire body to actually look away.

"Says this country is free enough to at least allow him to flaunt his ware whenever he pleases," Flake sighs. "And if you keep staring like that, I'm afraid he'll get it into his head that he's got some willing audience and throw a performance, and I could certainly do without it."

This makes Richard's face flush ever more viciously and he finally drops his gaze to the scratched and scuffed tabletop, desperately trying to convince his dick to please behave. Having to look at someone he's been sleeping with for the past couple of months and whom he finds himself desiring even more with every single encounter they have strutting around buck naked is already bad enough, and having to look at him doing it whilst sporting an erection would be a total fiasco.

So Richard takes in a steady breath and asks, "Does he often find willing audience?"

He feels Flake's eyes on himself, searching, so he purposefully makes an effort to avoid them lest the guy know about the nature of his relationship with Paul. He might already know it, him and Paul seemingly being rather close friends and given the fact of Paul's constantly blabbering mouth, but Richard's certainly not going to be the one breaking the news to anyone.

"The right question is, does he often throw performances," Flake points out with a sigh, which apparently means that, yes, he does. Hell, this man Richard seems to have fallen so hard for – at least as far as sex is concerned – is full of surprises, and he doesn't know whether he admires or loathes it.

Meanwhile, the walking disaster going by the name of Paul Landers finally joins them at the table with the air of nonchalance about him so palpable as he if was sporting the classiest suit made by some insanely overrated designer rather than coming to the dinner table bare assed. He plops himself on the bench smack in front of Richard, for which the latter is immensely grateful – this way, at least, he cannot see that tempting dick and entertain thoughts of various ways of how he could make it much less flaccid.

"Don’t get a splinter in your ass," Flake gives the man a sneering grin and emphasises it by an eyeroll.

"My ass is none of your concern, my dear friend," Paul deadpans and flashes Richard such a suggestive smile, complemented by a barely noticeable wiggle of one eyebrow, that the latter wishes the earth could open up and swallow him alive right at this very moment.

God help him because he certainly cannot help himself, with Paul sitting just across the table from him, looking ridiculously, unforgivably charming with his dishevelled bleached hair accentuating his dark eyes, a shit-eating grin on his lips, teeth perfectly white in the glare of the late afternoon sun, earrings gleaming mildly. It's hard to look at him and hard to breathe because he's hands down the prettiest thing Richard's seen in a very long while, and it's outrageous that he's thinking this about a man, but goddamn, just look at the man in question, collar bones sticking out ever so delicately, his frame petite, and his features so gentle.

"Aren't you the most unbearable smart ass for miles around, huh?" Richard asks, shaking his head and finally daring to give Paul a glance.

"Does my ass concern everyone today, or am I imagining things?" Paul asks, one eyebrow arched.

"There's not much ass to talk about, if you ask me," Flake mutters squinting at Paul.

"Says you?" Paul huffs but he sounds oddly fond so it's clear the two are just horsing around teasing each other.

For some unfathomable reason, it provokes a pang of sudden jealously, utterly unexpected and pretty much groundless. Paul told him as much back then on their second night together, that there's nothing sexual and has never been between Flake and him, yet here it is, this green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head not liking the fact that Paul can sound and look this affectionately at someone other than him. It's so utterly ridiculous that Richard shakes his head and huffs to himself under his breath. Yes, they have been sleeping together for the past couple of months, and, yes, it's been exceptionally satisfying, and, yes, pretty much everything about Paul seems to resonate in his own dick, but, hey, two months of having sex with a friend of yours doesn't call for jealousy.

On the heels of this thought, there's an absolutely untimely recollection of their recent encounter, Paul doing just that, complaining that Richard didn't pay him enough attention while spending most of his time playing with his own band, whispering his protests feverishly all the while he was clawing at the buckle on his pants like a junkie would grasp for the long-awaited shot of his drug of choice, teeth not particularly gentle of Richard's lower lip. It still stings somewhat when he laughs, courtesy of Paul's unceremonious manners, a reminder of their passion for each other so vicious yet so sweet at the same time.

Richard's brought back to real life by Till, who joined them at the table while he was reminiscing about various activities he'd rather be engaging in with Paul right now.

"What are you daydreaming about?" the big guy asks good-naturedly from across the table.

He's sitting to Paul's right, an unoccupied chair left between them. Richard focuses on him, letting his gaze fleetingly brush over Paul, who's also watching him curiously.

Jealousy my ass, he thinks to himself. He shouldn't be the only one to experience that emotion. After all, they're in this together so it would probably only be right if he teased Paul a little, too.

"About a girl I met with the other day," Richard smiles sweetly and dreamily at Till but he knows he's got Paul's full attention now.

"Oh, do I know her?" Till asks.

"Do I?" Paul echoes him almost simultaneously but the tone of his voice is slightly less amiable that that of Till.

"Hmmh," Richard hums and shrugs. "You might or you might not. Blond hair, grey eyes, slim, beautiful, petite, earrings in her ears, ribbons in her hair, a hell-raiser in bed," Richard recites not batting an eye, his gaze fixed on Till – because he was the first to ask the question, but from the corner of his eye he's watching Paul's reaction carefully.

To his genuine delight, Paul must have got the joke indeed because he gives him a glare which is bordering on murderous, so Richard goes on with twice as much glee.

"A little princess."

This time, Paul actually kicks his shin under the table, but with his bare foot he achieves very little, and Richard can't help it, he breaks into a fit of giggles, the kind of them which, recently, only Paul's been able to elicit from him. Paul's outraged glare is now compromised by the beginnings of laughter, too, which sets Richard off even further and he positively brays with laughter.

"Will the two of you let the rest in on the joke?" That's Schneider who's just come to join them, bringing in a bowl of barbecued meat and Olli in tow. "On second thought, I'm not sure I wanna know," he mutters suspiciously, and neither Richard nor Paul see him exchange a subtle glance with Flake.

"That's too long a story," Richard huffs, wiping at his leaking eyes. "Let's eat."

They have a delightful meal and chat and then jam some outside in the shade by the house and eat again, and it's only late in the evening when Paul and he manage to sneak away from the rest of the company, leaving the others to their own devices. The midday heat has subsided to a balmy night, still and mild, the farewell rays of the setting sun painting trees and grasses and house roofs into all possible kinds of soft gold and pink. It also makes Paul's suntanned skin glow golden, making Richard remember what it smells like.

They're walking side by side through a gently sloping meadow full if fragrant weeds and flowers, scorched by the sun during the day but coming slowly to life the closer the night is. The ever present hum of crickets, grasshoppers and cicadas makes a nice white background noise, and right at this very moment there's not a single concern in this world for either of them, the feeling precious and so acute Richard has to close his eyes tightly a few times and just breathe, telling himself the goodness of it all is real. When he opens them, his gaze is inevitably drawn to his companion, wearing his light summer pants and an unbuttoned shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows, the tanned skin of his forearms making a deliciously nice contrast with the plain washed out white fabric.

The initial plan was to go for a swim in the nearby lake but, somehow, they have taken a detour and ended up here in this field, nothing growing in it but grass and wildflowers. Richard takes a look around, briefly, musing that the setting couldn't be more romantic and, should he be here with a gal, it'd be a legitimate sentimental movie plot; she could pick up flowers and make a silly crown and run around, her light summer dress fluttering in the wind, and he'd try to catch her and they'd end up in some haystack making love to the sound of crickets. Richard analyses this little phantasy, relieved that this scenario is still appealing enough to him, and if there was a woman he could do it with, hell, he'd go for it. Yet here he is, with a guy, a mere thought of whom fascinates him beyond any acceptable norms, and if he looks at Paul long enough… there's no dress on him and no crown of daisies, just a shirt and pants which have seen better days and his hair is sticking out in disarray… Hell, his dick doesn't need much encouraging and coaxing, there is already certain tightness at the groin of his pants.

They are walking in the direction which leaves the setting sun just a little way behind Paul and slightly to his right, thereby effectively illuminating his hair and face. It turns his ruffled haircut into a kind of halo and makes his sun faded eyelashes practically transparent at their tips. There's a healthy blush on his hollow cheeks, either from the heat of the day or something else, and it suits the bastard unforgivably well, making him look oddly shy, which, Richard knows from personal experience, has nothing to do with Paul. Even so, with his dark eyes which look bigger than they really are on his gaunt face and those lashes and his blush, hell, Richard's not sure there is a woman he'd want more than this fellow.

He stops Paul by placing a hand onto his wrist, thin but with unmistakable stringy muscles of a skilled guitarist beneath the skin, making him trail off mid-sentence. He turns to give Richard a questioning glance and it's hard to miss the vast but barely distinguishable scatter of freckles on and around his nose. His shirt is unbuttoned, exposing his chest and those prominent ribs and his dark nipples, and Richard's gaze trails over it before returning to Paul's face, just in time to notice his curious look and a playful wiggle of one eyebrow. Due to his height, Paul's got to stick his chin out a little to be able to have his eyes on the same level as Richard's, and it gives him the air of boldness, which also seems to be in direct communication with Richard's cock. This somehow arrogant, slightly wry smirk was what managed to draw Richard's attention to him in the first place, compensating for the man's light build by adding a helluva lot of pain in the ass to his personality.

He still hasn't managed to unpuzzle Paul, all those smiles and the attitude of nonchalance about him potentially implying almost polar emotions in different situation. Right now, though, if he's not mistaken, there's nothing mocking about that open grin that's directed at him and that's turning his insides into something soft, evoking the familiar flutter in the depths of his stomach. As far as he can judge, Paul's smile is pretty contented and expressing just what it looks like, good humour and fascination and other things, too, darker things which Richard craves most of all.

"What?" Paul inquires, lifting one corner of his mouth in a crooked little smirk.

He knows what, the bastard, Richard's sure of it, knows just what kind of things he's been doing to him all day, cat-walking around butt-naked and shooting his suggestive obscene glances his way.

"Was just wondering if you ever shut the hell up," Richard says, unable to contain a smile, though.

"When my mouth's occupied with something else, yeah, sure thing," Paul replies without missing a beat, hands stuck in his pants pockets.

His tone is serious but there are little devils dancing in his smirking eyes, provocative as ever. He looks like a damn little demon himself, one who's somehow ended up with an angelic corporation, apparently to mislead his poor prey into sin. It's such a ridiculous thought that Richard actually laughs out and shakes his head.

"We need to do something about this mouth of yours then," he smiles and strokes Paul's thin lower lip with the pad of his thumb, the skin a little chaffed and dry from the heat.

"Thought you'd never get to it," the man says, not breaking the eye contact between them. "Thought that maybe you'd decided to be courting me for eternity or something, what with all this romantic walking around at sunset and chatting about stuff."

He looks daring as he says it, and Richard knows he's provoking him again but he doesn't mind, not in this kind of situations.

"Do you have any idea of just what the hell you're doing to me all the time, huh?" Richard mutters and swallows with difficulty. "Wanna fuck this insolent smirk right off your pretty face."

"Promises, promises…" Paul rolls his eyes, but he's grinning in his trademark way, knowing perfectly well just what the hell he's doing to Richard, oh yes, the little devil does.

"Paul…" Richard sighs, his hands coming to rest on his lover's slim hips as he pushes him backwards towards the nearby ramshackle carcass of what apparently used to be a shed. "Paul?"

"Hmm?" Paul hums, walking backwards, lips teasingly close to Richard's but not touching, his exhale a promising whisper on Richard's mouth.

"How come you're still in one piece being such a little shithead all the time, huh?" he murmurs, and, when Paul's backed against the old weathered concrete of the shed wall, leans in close so that their lips and hips finally come in contact. The impact makes them both gasp. "Share the secret?" he asks in the same slightly quivering murmur and nibbles at Paul's lower lip with his teeth, the tip of his tongue running over the tender skin.

Paul doesn't answer anything right away, but his own shuddering breath is all the answer Richard needs right now. Paul's lips close on his own a moment later, wet and eager as he sucks Richard's tongue in.

"You want me just like that, don't you?" Paul whispers in between the sloppy kisses they're sharing, hands already working on the fly of Richard's shorts. "Somebody who can argue the hell out of you," he states, this time closing his own teeth on Richard's lip, making the latter squeeze his eyelids tight because this deep, somehow purring, voice of Paul goes straight to his groin. Shit, he could listen to him all day, whispering obscenities into his ear if he kept talking like this.

"Then we're making a perfect annoying match," he replies, and when Paul sniggers happily, so does he, too, because his laughter is ever so contagious.

Feeling silly and intoxicated by the heady mixture of smells of summer fields, grasses and flowers which are in abundance around them, and the scent of Paul's body, sweat and the sun-warmed, tanned skin, he licks the tip of his nose, then bites it playfully and finally kisses it, adoring the way Paul wrinkles it.

"C'mon, stop teasing, keep your promise," Paul whispers into Richard's mouth, and his hand finally sneaks into his underwear, fingers now perfectly familiar with the territory as they encircle Richard's flesh with just the right amount of pressure to make the latter's head swim.

"Says the main tease around," Richard gasps, but any arguing he might have wanted to do is smothered by Paul's knowing hand doing wicked things between his legs.

He doesn't know how he's capable of pulling it off every time, having managed to study him so well down there that he's able to reduce him to a sweating, whimpering heap of flesh and bone in no time flat. It’s the way it's happening this time around, too, and Richard can't help but push his forehead against Paul's, thrusting minutely into that clever hand, sliding his tongue into Paul's willing mouth to the same rhythm.

It does require an effort to stop it before it's too late, a quick handjob nowhere near what he's craving to do to Paul.

"Turn around," he whispers softly into Paul's ear, all the while unbuttoning Paul's trousers and pushing them down his hips with hands which are not quite as steady as he wishes them to be.

Paul obliges all too fast, simultaneously fishing a familiar tube out of the pocket of his trousers before they fall down completely and stuffing it into Richard's sweaty hand, the brush of their fingers feeling as if they were electrified. The next moment, Paul's bare ass presses itself against Richard's crotch suggestively enough and twice as impatiently, making Richard's dick slide in between his cheeks and turning the smouldering fire in his groin into a roaring blaze and all kind of coherent thinking into mush. The only thing he remembers to do is to slick everything up properly, urging Paul to spread his legs further apart. It doesn't work out particularly successfully as Paul's still wearing his pants and shoes, but neither of them can be bothered with further undressing.

Everything which happens afterwards happens way too quickly, both of them engulfed into the scorching inferno of compulsive desire to feel each other in the most intimate of ways. The last shreds of his composure are exhausted while he tries to push in slowly enough for Paul to adjust, but judging by the way he's pushing his ass back, meeting Richard's movement, adjusting is not what's on his mind right now. So Richard slides the rest of the way in more confidently, lips sucking on the nape of Paul's neck, the skin salty on his tongue and with the pervasive scents of summer and sex in everything about him. When one of Paul's hands comes to squeeze on his hip frantically, pushing him closer, Richard can only stand this much.

With both of his hands clamped on Paul's slim hips so hard he'll find bruises there later – and kiss every single one of them, too – he starts to fuck him in earnest, and if Paul's hands weren't propped into the frayed wall in front of him, he'd end up face first against it. As it is, it gives him the leverage to meet Richard's thrusts, muscles on his back straining and his skin glistening with a thin sheen of sweat, veins standing prominently out on his hands and forearms.

"Oh my fucking god, Paul," Richard gasps, pounding into the other man's tight ass, the velvety heat engulfing him the best feeling in this entire wonderful universe, the choked sounds Paul's emitting music to his ears, the regular obscene slapping of his thighs against Paul's buttocks and his balls against Paul's the best symphony he could have asked for tonight. He doesn't make an attempt to jerk Paul off, and the latter doesn't try it himself either, perhaps unable to do so because he has to hold onto the wall for dear life now, or maybe because they're on the same wavelength today – just like they're usually are when sex is concerned – and Paul wants to come with just Richard's dick in his ass.

He does, too, soon enough, with a guttural groan and a breathless string of obscenities, knees nearly buckling beneath him, making him bend down whilst scraping fruitlessly at the wall with one hand and balancing with the other. Richard catches him around the waist just in time, hoisting him up and pressing him against the wall for support, still fucking him, his thrust irregular as the force of his orgasm builds up relentlessly. Paul ends up with his cheek against the rough concrete, Richard's lips on the corner of his mouth, both of them so closely entwined it seems like they've become one, and Richard comes then, all air leaving his lungs in a quiet gasp as if from the impact of colliding with something solid, spurting his seed partly inside Paul, partly on his little firm ass, squeezing him around the waist and lavishing wet kisses onto any part of Paul which ends up beneath his lips, sweat and saliva coating his skin just like sweat and semen cover his ass.

They remain like that for a while, gulping for breath together, Richard's softening dick pressed tightly to the crack of Paul's ass, his hand on Paul's flesh, spreading the last droplets of his semen over its length, making Paul shudder and moan each time the sensitive skin is touched too roughly.

For a while, there's nothing in the world but the summer noises of chirping insects and rustling grass and their evening breaths, and then the idyll is broken by Paul's quiet laughter. His ribcage shakes against Richard's torso, making the latter tighten the hold of his arms around the man.

"What's so funny?" he asks, voice raw and hoarse because his throat feels parched.

"Nothing," Paul replies with a satisfied sigh. "Just feeling good."

Then he wriggles in Richard's arms until he manages to turn around, leaning against the wall, and wraps his own arms around Richard's middle. They stand like this for god knows how long, their pants down, dicks out, shirts still on, wrapped into the warmth of one another's embrace, not talking about anything at all, just breathing in the fragrances of careless summer days and the scents of each other. They stand like this until shadows grow long and then fade away in the gathering twilight, the humidity of the summer night becoming more perceptible by the minute. They stand like this, still, when the first star lights up in the southern skies, and only then does Richard pull back at last, shuddering from the evening chill on his still damp skin.

It's still a long way to the complete darkness, and, albeit insufficient, the lighting is enough for Richard to see Paul's face clearly enough. He frowns slightly because right on Paul's cheekbone there's a patch of chaffed skin, apparently scratched raw as his cheek scraped against the old concrete. He lifts his hand to Paul's face, brushing his thumb gingerly along the edge of it, which makes Paul wince.

"Shit…" he mutters, not at all happy, and beckons Paul to turn his head, hand gentle on his cheek.

"What's there?" Paul asks lazily, not seeming particularly interested.

"I think you rubbed your face the wrong way against that wall, buddy," he murmurs.

"You took the entire thing too zealously," he smiles mildly, apparently still basking in the afterglow of this insanely fast and intense encounter. "If it goes on like this, I'll have to stop strutting around naked and wear something to cover all the marks you leave on me."

"'m sorry about this," Richard says softly.

"We could go on to the lake and you'll show me just how sorry you are, especially about that little princess part, how about that?" he asks, making Richard shake his head.

"Do you ever get enough?" he huffs fondly. "Will your ass endure another round?"

"Of you? Never," Paul smiles, looking contented and without a care in the world. "And your making apologies doesn't have to involve my ass again."

Richard just laughs out, unable to help it, and drops his forehead back against Paul's, nodding his head. Whatever it is that they're having this summer, whether it's right or wrong or something else, it makes Richard feel so damn good it's almost scary.

 

They make their way back to the house late at night, after their not quite so short rendezvous at the lake where Richard did indeed make amends for that scratch on Paul's cheek, this time using his hands and mouth on him and making the latter forget all coherent thinking let alone his insolent attitude. They took a short break and then Paul did the same to him, the fire between them seemingly insatiable, devouring all reasonable thought, sense of time and mere cautiousness. They went skinny dipping afterwards, on a, thankfully, totally deserted shore, and spent a good couple of hours just chatting about stuff, watching the stars change their position on the anthracite of the late August night sky.

"Till used to have a hammock in the back yard next to the shed," Richard suddenly recalls out loud.

They're just approaching the house, which seems to be sleeping, no lights visible anywhere. The two of them are walking alongside each other, not touching and with a few inches left between them, but even at this distance this Richard can swear he can feel the heat of Paul's body, his presence so palpable and such an inevitable part of his days this summer.

"If it's still there, we could crash on it instead of going back inside," he suggests, suddenly self-conscious, not sure if perhaps sleeping together is such a great idea considering they're at Till's sharing the space with four other people.

It's too late to take the offer back, though. Paul only hums in response, sounding weary, and when Richard doesn't respond or move, standing there in uncertainty, Paul simply grabs his hand and pulls him around the house to the back yard.

"Let's go," he says and yawns, "I can barely stand on my feet."

So Richard follows, with a mixture of excitement and apprehension brewing in his stomach. He doubts they'll be up to anything but passing out almost instantaneously, but even mere sleeping with Paul has always been nice, despite – or perhaps precisely because of – his clingy manner. Damn, but he does love to hug the bastard, for whatever reason. The proximity of their friends, though, spices up the entire endeavour.

Paul's hand is still clamped on his wrist when they turn around the corner of the house, and there it is, the hammock, hung under the extended roof the shed, big enough to accommodate two people with relative level of comfort. Considering the two are lovers and don't mind snuggling up, it turns into a perfect bed. The night is still warm enough so sleeping outside seems even more favourable than suffocating within the walls of the house anyway.

They settle down in the hammock quietly, Richard spooning behind Paul, now with a practised movement pulling him flush to himself, hand splayed over his chest, his thumb drawing little circles around one of his nipples. Paul let's out an appreciating hum and snuggles closer against Richard's front.

"Richard?" he mumbles a while later, sounding drowsy and apparently halfway into the land of oblivion.

Richard is surprised the man is not out like a light after the marathon they've had – sex with Paul is an exhausting business, after all. He's surprised he's not asleep himself, but it feels just too good to pass out yet, what with the fragrant freshness of the night, occasional cricketing of insects and Paul's supple, relaxed body against his own.

"Huh?" Richard hums in response, hooking his leg more securely over Paul's hip.

The hammock sways gently from his movement, its old hinges creaking ever so softly in the stillness around.

"We're playing next week, wanna join?"

"Will it involve any other recreational activities, eh?" Richard asks with a smile, hiding it in Paul's hair, which is still damp from swimming. To add more weight to his question, he slides his hand over Paul's stomach down until his index finger traces a teasing line along the waistband of his pants.

"You'll play along only for sex, huh?" Paul asks, his voice as teasing as Richard's hand tickling his navel.

"You have any objections? Wanna turn our relationship into a strictly professional one?" Richard grins.

He gives Paul's private parts a brief squeeze, feeling him push his pelvis into his hand.

"Hell no."

Richard laughs and kisses Paul's shoulder, then lets his hand trail all the way up from his crotch, over his chest and to his cheek. Paul lifts his head a little to allow him to put it under his head, his lips ending up partly pressed to Richard's palm.

"So will you join?" he asks. "Given that there will be some other leisure activities?"

"As long as you want to have me there," Richard replies, realising that he desperately needs Paul to want him, and not only in bed.

"Oh, let me tell you just in what ways I want to have you," Paul snickers.

"Good god, shut up and go to sleep already," Richard laughs and shifts his hand so that he could press it over Paul's babbling mouth.

"I wasn't the one who started talking about sex," Paul points out and actually presses a kiss right to the middle of Richard's palm.

He can only moan softly in response, amazed by it all, by Paul's proximity, even after a couple of months of engaging in this kind of recreational activities with him, by his need for Paul's proximity all the time, by the unspeakably satisfying way they always manage to spend their time alone, by just how intoxicatingly good it feels to be doing these things with him, to hold him like this and have him kiss his palm.

Richard sighs contentedly and closes his eyes, pulling Paul just a tad closer.

***

As they fall asleep, neither of them is aware of the fact that, even though the house is completely dark, it doesn't mean everyone inside is asleep. The backyard of Till's house is indeed sheltered from anyone who might want to take a peek from the road, but the windows of the house itself overlook the entire yard and everything in it. As it happens, Flake is not asleep either and whilst he's making his bed on the sofa in the big room downstairs, he catches the movement from the corner of his eye and instinctively looks out of the window to check what's going on.

What he sees is somehow both surprising and not at all, a weird mixture of states to be in. It's quite dark outside but not dark enough not to recognise the two familiar figures of his friends whom anyone didn't really expect to see until morning, given the fact that they disappeared into the blue at some point without telling anything to anyone. Why the hell they're sneaking around in the backyard in the middle of the night remains puzzling only for a few seconds, precisely until the moment Flake notices the shorter figure leading the taller one by the hand towards the shed, moving with such ease as if he's been doing that for ages. They stop there at the small terrace under the roof, and it's when Flake remembers that there's a hammock hanging there, and now the last piece of the puzzle that those two have become clicks into place.

Truth be told, they weren't all that much of a puzzle, not to him at least, because he's known Paul for long enough to start wondering about certain things, what with his ambiguous phrases and provocative behaviour in certain circumstances in relation to other males. Yes, he's been married, and yes, he's had lots of girlfriends, and yes, he knows how to be charming with ladies to make them jump right out of their panties, but here he is, leading Richard by the hand towards that hammock and just the way he's doing confirms all Flake's suspicions.

Speaking about which, he's not the only one to have them.

"Schneider?" he calls, almost sure that the drummer, who's occupying another ottoman in the same main room, must be out of it.

"The hell?" Schneider mumbles sleepily, sounding annoyed.

"Come take a look," Flake says.

"For fuck's sake, at what? It's the middle of the damn night, Flake!" he grumbles.

"Just come see," Flake chuckles quietly. "It's worth it."

With an exasperated sigh and a couple of curses, the drummer does clumsily get up, walking a bit unsteadily to join Flake by the window. He looks out for some time, blinking and rubbing at his eyes, all the while Paul climbs into the hammock to join Richard, the latter pulling him into what from their sheltered viewpoint looks like a proper full-limb embrace. The ease with which those two are accomplishing it can only imply that it's not the first time they've been sharing a sleeping place.

Schneider whistles quietly and shakes his head.

"Holy shit, so it's true, huh?" he says in awe. "Them two? Together?"

Flake shrugs, then huffs. "Looks pretty much like it to me." Mimicking Schneider's movement, he shakes his head minutely, too. "I'm damn well sure they were flirting with each other earlier today when we were having dinner."

"Shit, I hope they aren't going to get up to anything out there. Not sure I want to be an accidental witness to…" he trails off and shakes his head.

"I'd say they must have got up to everything they wanted given how long they've been away."

Schneider gives him a sideways glance. "So you're not at all surprised, huh?"

"Are you?"

"Dunno… not all that much about Paul, I guess. Richard, though… of all the people… how did they even end up…" Schneider falls silent again, shakes his head once more and then adds, hastily, "screw that, I don't wanna know."

"Well, the mystery's solved at last," Flake shrugs and leaves the spot by the window to grab a blanket from the chair.

"What are you doing?" Schneider asks giving Flake a glance as if he's gone totally out of his mind.

"Going out to give them the damn blanket," he sighs. "It's fine now but it does get rather fresh in the wee hours, and those two are apparently way too besotted to think ahead."

"Let them come in shivering in in the morning," Schneider huffs.

"Ah, leave them be," Flake says and waves him off.

"They'll see you," the drummer points out.

"That's why I'm going out there," Flake says, "at least I won't have to pretend anymore I don't know a damn thing about them."

So he goes out and into the backyard purposefully, indeed relieved because he won't have to turn a blind eye to what those two are up to. He just hates acting the fool.

He finds the pair – or are they a couple now? – snuggled together, the hammock just the perfect size for two. He cannot see their faces as both are turned away from him, but, even despite his far from sharp vision, there's no mistaking Richard's arm wrapped around Paul's upper body and his face nuzzled against Paul's shoulder, his leg thrown over him either for warmth or, more likely, in an attempt to be as close as physically possible. He almost cannot see Paul at all, his much slighter figure practically covered by Richard's body, but the air about them leaves little for imagination. If that isn't a lovers' hug, then there's no such thing at all. Once again, Flake marvels at how those two ended up like this, given their sometimes frighteningly different personalities. But then again, for all the differences there are, they also share some elusive similarity.

Flake huffs and throws the blanket over them, not coming too close.

"Don't freeze your asses off," he says, unable to help smiling at how they both give a start, and, funnily enough, Richard, instead of shying away from Paul upon being caught, actually seems to tighten his hold. Flake might be mistaken, but the gesture gives impression of protectiveness, and, if it is so, hell, he must have just stumbled upon something precious happening here.

"Fuck's sake, Flake," Paul mutters, his voice muffled and sounding a bit annoyed, though Flake knows him better than that – beneath the annoyance, there's apprehension, too.

"You'll thank me in the morning," he throws over his shoulder, already halfway back towards the house and leaving the lovers to their own devices.