They spill out into the street in a rush of light and warmth and crowd-noise from inside. The shutting door cuts the world in two, quite abruptly. Jonah and Barnabas stand on one side of it, in the wintery darkness, and on the other side the party goes riotously on.
Barnabas hooks his arm through the crook of Jonah’s to anchor him in place, lest he drift back into the scene. That sort of gathering energizes Jonah as much as it exhausts Barnabas, and it was only through begging and bribery that Barnabas pried Jonah away earlier than the small hours of the morning, when no decent men find themselves awake.
But then, he and Jonah can hardly call themselves decent men, can they?
He turns his mind, as they turn their feet down the slushy street towards the narrow apartment they’ve rented rooms in, away from such melancholy as that thought brings. There are more delightful indecencies in store for tonight, so Barnabas decides to ruminate on those instead.
“I hardly see why we have to go trampling through the snow and cold for whatever gift of yours this is,” Jonah complains.
Not that the cold seems to much affect him. He’s flushed in the lamplight, eyes glittering, scarf hanging loose around his neck. Plump, choleric Jonah has always fared well in the winter months. When the daytime hours start to shrink and the air gets sharp, when the wind grows teeth, that’s always when the fire inside Jonah burns closest to the surface.
Barnabas, meanwhile, is numb. Fingers, nose, toes, ears. He’ll put his hands to Jonah’s skin, later, to try to leach some of that heat, though it always leaves him imperfectly cooked, scalded here and still half-frozen there.
Better, perhaps, to be ice. Less painful, for a certainty. He had thought that attitude quite perfected in himself until Jonah had come into his life, and now he simply cannot escape the man’s orbit, nor does he find himself much motivated to try. Pain can be intoxicating in its own way, he supposes.
“It isn’t a gift fit for company,” he tells Jonah primly. “You’ll enjoy it better than talking theory with those drunk university boys over cards, I’m sure.”
“Oh, are you?” But the tilt of Jonah’s voice says he’s intrigued now. He tucks himself in a bit closer to Barnabas’s side.
For a moment, in the dark, they might both imagine themselves free to touch in public as they please. Barnabas does, at any rate. He can’t vouch for what goes on in Jonah’s head, nor is he entirely sure he’d like to be able to.
“Of course I am. My company is a gift in and of itself, is it not? So anything atop that ought to please you quite well.”
“Your company is a rare commodity,” Jonah acknowledges, “for most men.” Not him, though. Never him. Barnabas has most thoroughly belonged to Jonah for more than a year, now, and they both know it. “And you do know how to please me.”
A shiver runs through him, and Jonah chuckles.
Their lodging house looms up out of the darkness, one in a row of similar skinny buildings. They let each other go out there, and Barnabas leads the way inside. Jonah is a warm presence at his back, close and hushed, as they make their careful way up the creaking stairs to the floor their rooms are on. Two rooms for propriety’s sake, side by side for convenience’s sake. There are no lights in the hall, and no moonlight peeks through the blanket of leaden clouds covering the sky, so it’s in nearly complete darkness that Barnabas unlocks the door and slips into his room.
In the silence that follows, broken only by their breathing and the rustling of cloth as they slip off their coats and scarves, step out of their wet boots, the little room becomes its own world. Within the confines of its four walls, they are both gods, both men, both whatever they wish to be, whatever they wish each other to be.
Barnabas is slow to kindle the lamp which sits on his small writing desk for fear its flickering light might break the illusion. He does, though, and looks over at Jonah, standing in sock feet near the door and watching him, gilded now by the light, his curling hair the sun, his pale eyes full of the dancing flame, and feels even further separate from the world.
The box sits innocuously enough on his desk, wrapped up in plain brown paper. Barnabas runs his thumb along one edge of it and wonders suddenly whether or not this is a terrible idea. Too late now.
“Here,” he says, and steps aside to allow Jonah the pleasure of opening it. Perhaps he ought to give it more ceremony, a bit of grandstanding, but his throat is dry and he simply can’t. What to say? It’s not any occasion, really, not a holiday. Not the day Jonah was birthed, although perhaps it can be said to be the anniversary of the day that Jonah Magnus came to be.
And of course, Jonah notices. “Are you nervous? You raised my hopes up high,” he says, as he unties the twine and carefully removes the paper. He folds that up and puts it aside, then looks over at Barnabas with a crooked, teasing grin, a flash of teeth. “I’ll have payment from you if I left that party for nothing.”
“Oh, I’ll grovel as you please,” Barnabas manages, “if you don’t like it. But I think you will.” Unless he’s overstepped himself. It’s not a thing they’ve really spoken about. Jonah simply told him how things were going to be, and it was one of those matters - like his father, like the question of the Bennett estates - that Barnabas did not find it in himself to question.
With a little hum of acknowledgement, Jonah lifts the lid off the box. He goes very still, then. For a long time - a minute, an eternity, a time outside of time in the orange-shadowed dimness - his eyes are the only part of him that moves.
Then he reaches into the box and lifts up the mass of leather straps and polished buckles, dark and oiled and gleaming. “What,” he asks, voice light but not entirely steady, “is this? Horse tack?”
Barnabas had, in fact, had a similar conversation with the leatherworker he’d commissioned the design from. That had been nothing compared to the mortification of speaking with the woodworker, though the man himself had seemed utterly unconcerned. “Well, I suppose one might use it for riding, of a sort.”
Jonah takes a step back from the desk and holds the whole contraption up, stretching it into a semblance of shape so he might examine it. He sets it down and lifts the other object up out of the box. This one, at least, is simple in both form and function: a long, slim, wooden cock, carved to no standard of realism but with a pleasing flare to the tip to suggest a glans and a wide, flat base.
The lacquered wood gleams brilliantly in the firelight, absorbing and reflecting until it almost seems to be aflame itself. In daylight, the wood is a pleasant red. It had reminded him of Jonah’s hair, the flush of Jonah’s skin.
Jonah traces the lines of it with a fingertip, then looks sharply at Barnabas - alert, no doubt, for any hint of pity, any suggestion of insufficiency in himself. As if Barnabas might go to such lengths, not to mention the expenditure, for the sake of a joke.
“It’s for you to wear,” Barnabas says, as if that weren’t obvious from the size and shape of the harness. Though he’s much shorter, Jonah is round and well-padded in the hips and thighs, much broader than lanky Barnabas. “The both of them together, I mean, so that you might - well, it doesn’t seem fair you can’t, so - well, I thought - ”
“You thought our buggery might be more equitable?” asks Jonah dryly, saving Barnabas from his own stuttering tongue. He’s looking at the wooden cock again, gaze fixed on it. “How gentlemanly of you.”
“Yes, well… Would you like to try it out, then?” Hardly the most graceful proposition Barnabas has ever issued, but it puts him back on steadier ground. He’s never asked - never dared ask - if Jonah feels a lack from being born as he was. It seems safe to assume that any man not in possession of a cock must surely want one, but assuming is never safe with Jonah.
Jonah’s gaze flicks briefly to Barnabas’s face, his smiling mouth simply a shadowy curve in his face. “But of course. Though I may need you to help lace me in, as it were.” He sets the carved cock down on the desk, fingers the collection of leather straps meant to affix it to his body, and then turns his attention towards his own clothing.
Barnabas finds his own hands unaccountably a-tremble. The earlier nervousness that his gift might not be received well, that he might overstep some invisible line with it, is gone, replaced by an entirely new sort of edgy anticipation. He’s had Jonah front and back - and every other way a couple might amuse themselves, as well - and been given to know that it’s quite an experience to be taken so. Jonah’s ventured to slide a finger inside him a time or two, as well, usually while he’s putting his wicked mouth to good use, and that’s always been quite enjoyable.
Being breached by the full length and breadth of a cock, though, is not something Barnabas has ever experienced. During the weeks it’s taken to commission the whole works, he’s found himself at times able to think of little else.
Though he tends to take care with his clothing, tonight he’s in too much of a hurry. He strips out of jacket, waistcoat, and undershirt so fast he’s at risk of popping off buttons, and drops them unceremoniously on the floor. His trousers receive similar treatment, shoved down his legs and stepped hastily out of. In deference to the chill of the room, he leaves his socks on.
Gooseflesh ripples across his exposed skin, but he’s so flushed with excitement he can barely feel it. Soon enough he’ll have the warm weight of Jonah’s body atop him, and the cold will be the furthest thing from his mind.
When he looks up, Jonah’s down to his shirt-sleeves, but still mostly dressed, watching him with that unreadable, crooked little smile of his. “Can it go over my clothes, do you think?”
Into his mind swims the image of Jonah, fully dressed and not a hair out of place, trousers open just enough for his cock to jut out, just enough for a hint of that nest of wiry red curls, looking indulgently down on Barnabas kneeling open-mouthed, waiting...
“Yes,” Barnabas says, “yes, you can let the straps out or take them in.”
“Clever,” Jonah murmurs, picking the harness up. He examines it closely, running it through his fingers, tugging at this or that strap or buckle, until it seems he’s satisfied himself with its operation.
Ever the loyal attendant, Barnabas stands at the ready to help him step into and tighten it upon himself. He can’t resist leaning into Jonah’s back, nor help the way his whole body thrills to the roughness of Jonah’s clothing against his own bare skin. He nuzzles into the side of Jonah’s head, breathing in the wood-smoke wintersmell still caught in his hair, and breathes out a trembling sigh when Jonah turns and catches his mouth in a kiss.
“On the bed, pet,” Jonah whispers against his lips, fingers light against the side of his face. Each one is a brand on his skin. “Hands and knees, I think.”
Arranged thus on the bed, Barnabas feels exposed beyond simply the bareness of his body. Every inch of his skin prickles beneath the weight of Jonah’s gaze. When Jonah’s fingers touch his back to trace the line of his bowed spine, he shudders.
He’s left alone for a time after that fleeting touch. He could turn his head to watch what Jonah’s doing, but he doesn’t. Instead he listens to the creaking of the floorboards beneath Jonah’s feet, the soft sounds of movement, the tension drawing tighter and tighter in his gut as he awaits Jonah’s return.
Finally, the mattress dips beneath an added weight. Jonah cups him by the hips and strokes down his thighs, then back up, then uses his thumbs to spread his cheeks apart. Barnabas draws in a shuddering breath, holding still beneath that intimate scrutiny.
One of Jonah’s hands leaves. It returns but a moment later, to press a slick, oiled finger against his hole. He can’t help the breathless sound he makes at that.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in such a state,” Jonah murmurs, amused. “You must want this terribly. How long have you thought about it then? How often have you dreamt of me having you this way?” His other hand slips beneath Barnabas’s body, to cup and fondle at his cock, which between the cold and his nerves is still mostly soft, though hardly unresponsive. “ Do you want this?” Though he asks, the finger between Barnabas’s cheeks doesn’t stop its slow circling, its gentle pushing inwards.
Barnabas exhales heavily into the pillow. “I do - terribly.” He huffs a small laugh, which turns abruptly into a low moan as Jonah’s finger slides deep inside him. “It’s been somewhat - somewhat on my mind, I do admit. But what about you?”
“Have I dreamt of bending you over and buggering you?” Jonah leans forward, pressing upon Barnabas’s back, the tip of his wooden cock bumping against the inside of Barnabas’s thigh. “Frequently. You make such a sight already when it’s only my fingers in you, how could I not?” So saying, he draws his single finger out and pushes two in.
The stretch of it burns, a bit, but Jonah has never been overly delicate handling him, and Barnabas has never wanted him to be. Only a fool would wish tenderness from such a man as Jonah Magnus, and a fool Barnabas might be, but not so much one that he doesn’t see thorns for what they are.
With just those two fingers, Jonah undoes him. He works them steadily in and out, pausing every so often to drizzle more oil over them, and in those moments of emptiness Barnabas aches down to his core. Each time Jonah’s fingers slide back in, his body welcomes them more eagerly, and each time he slips further into the incoherence of lust, the utter separation of his mind from the whining animal of his body.
By the time Jonah - teasing bastard - decides he’s done, Barnabas is panting open-mouthed into the pillow, his cock stiff and dripping between his legs. Jonah gives it an absent-minded tug, his two wet fingers a contrast against his dry palm. He seems wholly unmoved by the wretched sound which spills from Barnabas when he lets go.
“Are you ready for me?” he asks, but doesn’t give Barnabas a chance to answer before he starts to shift himself into position.
It doesn’t matter, though. The answer is yes. Has always been yes. Will always be yes when Jonah asks, because that’s the shape that Barnabas collapses into under Jonah’s touch, his gaze, his words.
Jonah fumbles getting himself lined up right. It’s not an intuitive way for him to move or position himself, but he’s quick and Barnabas is more than willing to be pushed and moved into a more accommodating position. The blunt tip of Jonah’s wooden cock presses home, finally, cool and slippery, and Barnabas stops breathing.
He struggles to inhale while Jonah grips his hips with bruising force and works himself slowly in, rocking in little bursts of movement. Every centimeter fills him up more full than he’s ever been before. Once their bodies are flush, Jonah’s cock as deep inside him as it can go, there isn’t room in him for anything else, not heart or lungs or anything.
“Jonah,” he gasps. What else, after all, does he need? What else ought there be space within his skin for? “Jonah, oh, Jonah -” If there is a reply, he cannot hear it over the pounding of his own heart.
Jonah’s first movements are jerky and uncoordinated. It only serves to draw the pleasure out into a near torment; just when Barnabas begins to lose himself in the hot drag of being fucked, Jonah will stop to shift his hips or his grip, huffing and muttering curses above him while Barnabas trembles, desperate with want, half-mad with the teasing.
But when he does catch on, it is exquisite. He settles on a rolling rhythm of long, slow thrusts, stuffing Barnabas full and then emptying him out over and over again. Barnabas shudders helplessly in place, Jonah’s name on his tongue like a prayer.
“Hush,” Jonah says. “You’ll wake the whole house. Why, I don’t half carry on like this when I’m getting fucked, do I?”
With a moan of wordless agreement, Barnabas stuffs his fist into his mouth to quell his cries. There’s naught to his body save the cock in his ass and the weight of his own stiff cock bouncing between his legs with every thrust. If Jonah were to touch him, even glancingly, he’d climax at once, but Jonah doesn’t. It comes to him that Jonah might simply keep this up forever. Jonah might keep him in this state of mindless, agonizing pleasure until it truly does drive him out of his mind. It isn’t, after all, as if fucking Barnabas is like to bring Jonah to his own orgasm, nor as if that orgasm would render him incapable of continuing.
Jonah speeds up, snapping his hips forward relentlessly. The wet sound of his cock splitting Barnabas open echoes obscenely off the wooden walls. Barnabas is sure the whole house must hear it, that they must be able to hear it out on the streets, that God and all the angels in Heaven must be listening to this act.
Orgasm hits him like a bolt of lightning. He comes suddenly, untouched, in a violent paroxysm of overwhelming pleasure. His teeth sink deeply enough into the flesh of his own hand to leave bruises, but not a sound escapes the locked prison of his throat. For a dizzying spell of time, he cannot breathe, and then when he can he drags in breath after thin, sobbing breath with all the desperation of a man rescued from drowning.
Jonah must not notice, for he doesn’t stop. Every thrust pushes Barnabas even further over the plateau where pain and pleasure become indistinguishable.
Finally, he drags his hand away from his face and flings it back, groping blindly for Jonah’s hand on his hip, for Jonah’s wrist, for any part he can grasp. “Stop,” he begs breathlessly, “stop, stop, oh, stop.”
Far more suddenly than he’d started, Jonah stops. It’s nearly as jarring. “Had enough?” he asks. He’s winded as well, blowing like he’s had a brisk run, with that edge of wildness to his voice he gets when he’s well worked up.
“I’m done,” Barnabas says, “and - my God - I do think you’ll kill me if you keep going. Leave off.”
He can’t help whimpering when Jonah pulls out. Every inch of him is raw and sensitive, now, as if he’s been scoured all over with sand, but no part so much as his ass. Jonah gives him a brisk and businesslike pat on the bottom, and then his weight disappears entirely from off the bed.
Barnabas collapses down flat, then, with a groan, rolls over. The sheets beneath him are sticky with his own spend, now smeared across his belly and back, but he doesn’t much care. He wants to watch Jonah.
Lit from behind by the guttering lamp, Jonah is a shadow outlined in burnished copper, his hair a gleaming halo, his face unreadable. His legs tremble, but his hands are steady as he pulls the harness down, and then as he divests himself of the rest of his clothing. Free from its carefully tailored layers and binding undergarments, the silhouette of Jonah’s body is much softer and more rounded. Naked, he seems gentler.
He steps to the edge of the bed. With no small effort, Barnabas sits up and reaches to take hold of his waist, to nuzzle into the softness of his belly.
“Shall I give you my mouth?” he asks softly, drawing his hands down to Jonah’s thighs. He presses his thumbs into the space between them, flesh dimpling beneath the pressure, and dips his head to nose at the wiry bush of Jonah’s pubic hair.
“Oh, yes,” Jonah sighs, “but not standing, I shouldn’t think.”
They trade places. Jonah sits on the edge of the bed, leaning back on his hands with his legs splayed apart, while Barnabas slides down to kneel on the cold floor. His knees ache right away, but he can hardly complain, not when he has the sanctuary of Jonah’s cunt. He explores it first with his fingers, parting the wiry hair to stroke the slick folds of hot flesh, and then lowers his mouth to the task.
It’s almost shocking, how wet Jonah is, how quickly he responds to the touch of Barnabas’s tongue. Normally, Barnabas luxuriates in the slow pleasure of teasing Jonah into a frenzy, of using tongue and lips and fingers to coax him into shameless need. Hardly has he put his lips to Jonah’s cunt than does Jonah grab him round the back of the head and grind into his face.
Nor does it take much at all to tip Jonah over the edge of orgasm. Barnabas suckles at him, flicks the tip of his tongue against Jonah’s clit, and then all at once all the flesh against his mouth begins to shudder and Jonah’s thighs clamp tight against the sides of his head. Barnabas can’t breathe, but he hardly minds. He’s thought on more than one occasion that a man could not hope for a more delightsome way to be smothered.
In time, he’s allowed to move away. Jonah’s smell lingers in his nose, Jonah’s taste in his mouth, even after he grabs the nearest discarded shirt and uses it to wipe Jonah’s wetness from his face.
“So,” Barnabas says, looking up into Jonah’s shadowed eyes, “I take it you’ve enjoyed your gift, then?”
Jonah cups Barnabas’s face in his soft hands and kisses him tenderly. “Put out the lamp and come to bed.”