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we that are true lovers run into strange capers

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It’s a Thursday evening and Jonathan is in as good a mood as he’s ever been.

Barnabas had asked Jonathan to accompany him to the theatre on Drury Lane to see the latest production of As You Like It—a production, Barnabas had assured him, that he’d find enjoyable despite his general lack of enthusiasm for Shakespeare’s works. And though Jonathan had found the play to be tolerable at best, the pleasure of Barnabas’ company had more than made up for it.

The weather, too, is especially fine—warm without the usual humidity that accompanies the month of June. He and Barnabas opted to walk back to Jonathan’s townhome so as to enjoy the evening to its fullest. All the while, Barnabas finds every excuse to brush his arm against Jonathan’s, and it’s impossible to miss the furtive little glances Barnabas shoots his way when he thinks Jonathan's not looking.

Before long, they arrive on the threshold of Jonathan’s home, Barnabas a warm presence at his back as he fishes for his keys. Door open, Jonathan gestures Barnabas in ahead of him, biting back a smile when Barnabas drags his fingers along Jonathan’s outstretched arm as he passes.

Barnabas is saying something that Jonathan doesn’t catch as he closes the door behind him, but no matter—he rounds swiftly on Barnabas, pushing him back against the wall. That silences him rather quickly. Jonathan crowds up against him, making full use of his scant advantage in height, and fits his hands to Barnabas’ waist.

“Mr. Bennett,” Jonathan says, leaning forward to nudge his nose into the tender place below Barnabas’ ear. “You’ve been an astonishing tease all evening.” His breath is warm against the sensitive skin of Barnabas’ neck, and he delights in the shiver it draws from him, the slight hitch in his breath. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I-I haven’t the faintest idea what you mean, Dr. Fanshawe,” Barnabas replies. There’s barely repressed laughter in his voice and he leans into Jonathan’s touch. “Have I not been the model of a proper gentleman this evening?”

“You haven’t and you know it.” Jonathan slides a hand around to Barnabas’ back, pressing against the small of it until their hips are flush together. Already, Jonathan can feel Barnabas’ stirring interest pressing against his hip. “And this—would you call this proper?”

Barnabas fists his hands into the back of Jonathan’s coat, arching up into his touch. He tilts his head obligingly, angling his chin to allow Jonathan more space for his ministrations. The scent of his cologne has faded over the course of the evening, an afterthought among the warm, familiar smell of the man himself. Jonathan presses a lingering kiss to the hinge of Barnabas’ jaw, and the skin there tastes faintly of salt.

“That’s rich considering you’re the one who started groping.”

“Another lie.” Jonathan gives Barnabas’ ear a quick nip—partially in reprimand, but mostly, if he’s being honest, just to hear the sound it draws from him. “What do you call what you were up to in the theatre if not ‘groping’?”

Barnabas merely groans in response, throwing his head back and moving his hips against Jonathan’s, seeking out more friction. The effect is quite lovely: long, dark lashes against his full cheeks, the smooth, golden column of his throat on display, begging to be marked. But Jonathan won’t let him have his way, not just yet.

“Shameless,” Jonathan tuts. He cups a hand around Barnabas’ jaw and slides his thumb over his bottom lip. “Anyone could have seen you.”

“It was too dark for that!” Barnabas exclaims, eyes flying open at Jonathan’s accusation. “Nobody would have seen!”

“Ah, so you admit it,” Jonathan says. “You did start it.”

Barnabas’ face flushes red, and Jonathan has the pleasure of watching him try and, ultimately, fail at trying to talk his way out of it.

“Yes, yes, I’ll admit it,” he says, verging on petulant. He is just as graceless in this defeat as he is any. But then he smiles slyly, and Jonathan isn’t quite sure he likes the look in his eye. “But can you blame me, Jonathan?” He pulls Jonathan closer against him, tipping his head back against the wall to look up at him. He darts his tongue out to wet his bottom lip, and Jonathan can’t help but track the motion, the way his lip glistens in its wake. “You are so very handsome, and to say I’m not thoroughly under your thrall would be a worse lie than any other you’ve accused me of telling tonight.”

It seems it’s Jonathan’s turn to flush, and he ducks his head a bit as a smile pulls at his lips. Barnabas breaks out into a smile of his own, lips parting to reveal the gap between his front teeth, cheeks dimpling charmingly. Jonathan shakes his head.

“Alright, that’s enough of your silver tongue—"

“And here I thought the night was only just beginning.”

Jonathan snorts and pulls away from Barnabas, turning away slightly to try and hide his smile. Barnabas waits, leaning back against the wall, watching him with such affection in his eyes that it sets Jonathan’s chest to aching.

“Come here,” Jonathan says, stretching his hand out for Barnabas to take. He pulls Barnabas in by it, leaning in to finally kiss his lips. “Let’s go to the bedroom, shall we?”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

Jonathan leads them down the hall, Barnabas’ hand in his. Each time he glances over his shoulder, he finds Barnabas’ eyes on him, as if he were the only thing in the world worth looking at. There was a time when such attention would have discomfited Jonathan—when he didn’t trust any affection shown him to be genuine. It had been hard to feel like anyone could accept him for who he was—mind, body, the lot of it—unless they, too, were like him. But he has watched the way Barnabas looks at Jonah; the way he touches him, the way he loves him. The implicit trust and understanding between them. Jonathan has since come to trust Barnabas and the sincerity with which he regards him, the way he looks at and touches him, too.

He pushes open the door to his bedroom and guides Barnabas in before him.

It’s sparsely furnished, but that’s the way Jonathan prefers it. Barnabas is easily the most decorated thing in the room with his embroidered silk waistcoat and his carefully knotted cravat. Jonathan watches him from the doorway for a moment, eyes following the pull of his trousers over his thighs as he walks to the center of the room, up to where his coat nips in just above the soft curve of his waist.

“Just going to stand there, are you?”

When Jonathan flicks his eyes up to his face, Barnabas is smiling knowingly at him, equal parts smug and pleased.

“Why don’t you go and get yourself undressed for me,” Jonathan says, nodding his chin in Barnabas’ direction.

“Not in the mood to lend a hand?” He puts on a pout, but Jonathan doesn’t miss how eagerly his hands jump to his throat, picking quickly at the knots of his cravat.

“Oh, there’ll be time for that later,” he starts airily. “I shouldn’t like for you to finish so soon after we’ve begun.”

Jonathan turns his back on Barnabas’ indignant shout, biting his lip to control his smile as he walks over to his dresser. Barnabas mutters mutinously behind him.

“The sheer amount of disrespect… unconscionable. To think I hold such a rude man in such high regard…”

From out of a drawer Jonathan pulls a leather harness and an intricately carved wooden phallus, thick enough around that his fingers barely meet where he grips it. As soon as Barnabas sees it, his mutterings cease and, by the sounds of it, he speeds up the removal of his clothing.

By the time Jonathan turns back around, cock fitted into the harness he wears around his hips, Barnabas has not a stitch left on him, clothes strewn in a haphazard pile around him on the floor. He’s half-hard already, fists clenched and pressed to the tops of his thigh—as if he doesn’t trust himself not to touch if he doesn’t keep careful control over them.

Jonathan gestures him over with a crook of his fingers, and Barnabas hastens to obey. Wordlessly, he sinks to his knees before Jonathan, settling back to sit on his heels, but makes no move to do anything further. He looks up at Jonathan with wide, dark eyes, teeth digging into his bottom lip where he worries it as he waits.

“Good boy,” Jonathan murmurs, sliding a hand into Barnabas’ hair and guiding his head gently forward.

Barnabas takes to it with gusto, as he always does. His eyes slip closed as he takes the head of Jonathan’s cock into his mouth, lips stretched wide, barely fitting around it. This is the exact reason why Jonathan selected this one—to see Barnabas rise to the challenge, watch as he struggles and eventually makes it work. He drags his thumb over the corner of Barnabas’ mouth, feeling for himself just how tight the fit is. Barnabas suckles at the head for a moment, making soft, pleased little sounds in the back of his throat that mix with the quiet, wet noises of his mouth on Jonathan’s cock.

Jonathan wishes more than anything that he could feel it—that the wet heat of Barnabas’ mouth could be translated to his own cock, just like this. But he gluts himself on the visual all the same, on the fantasy of it all. Barnabas attends to Jonathan’s cock with all the same enthusiasm as he’s seen him attend to Mordechai’s and seems to enjoy it just the same, as if there were no material difference between the two. The thought excites him, makes it all a bit more real—and when Barnabas pulls back until just the tip of Jonathan’s cock rests on his tongue, eyes fluttering open to look up at his face, he feels heat pool low in his belly.

Barnabas carries on like this, tonguing at the head, pressing open-mouthed kisses down the shaft and back up again. And then he takes Jonathan’s cock as deep as he can manage, opening his throat to slide his lips down to meet the base of it, nose pressed to the supple leather of the harness. This he seems to like best, holding himself there with Jonathan’s cock buried in his throat, taking shallow, measured breaths through his nose as saliva begins to drip from the corners of his lips. Even when his breath catches and he begins to choke, he holds himself there, throat spasming around Jonathan until he gets his muscles back under control and his breathing even again.

Though Jonathan would normally indulge Barnabas, letting him warm his cock for as long as he pleased, he starts to grow restless, hips twitching in short, aborted movements. He wants to fuck Barnabas, to thrust into his mouth and watch as tears collect at the corner of his eyes, lashes wet and clinging as he looks up at him. Cupping a hand around the back of Barnabas’ head, Jonathan begins to pull back, slipping his cock out from his mouth. The sound of dismay that Barnabas makes is startlingly loud, and Jonathan has to shift his grip into Barnabas’ hair to keep him from ducking forward to chase after him.

“Hold still,” Jonathan tells him firmly, and then once again, this time softer, when Barnabas complies. “Hold still.”

He wraps a hand loosely around his cock, giving it a long, slow stroke as he looks over Barnabas’ face. His lips are red and puffy, his chin shiny with saliva that leaked out around Jonathan’s cock. He looks a debauched mess, utterly ruined and yet still wanting as he looks up at Jonathan from the floor. Taking pity on him, Jonathan unwinds his fingers from his hair, stroking over the nape of his neck as he guides his cock back towards his lips.

“Keep your mouth open,” he instructs. “Tap twice on my leg if you need me to stop.” He waits for Barnabas to voice his assent, a small, raspy yes, before he rests his cock onto Barnabas’ tongue and pushes back inside.

He takes it slow at first, fucking Barnabas’ mouth with short, shallow thrusts until he finds his rhythm and Barnabas has grown used to the pace. Too used to the pace, it seems, as Barnabas whines around his cock, bobbing his head to take him in deeper.

Patience,” Jonathan says, fisting his hand once more in Barnabas’ hair. “Or we’ll stop right now and I’ll spend the rest of the evening reading.”

Barnabas frowns—or at least, gives his best approximation of one with his mouth full of Jonathan’s cock. Despite his apparent displeasure, he straightens his posture and doesn’t try to move again.

“Good.” Jonathan loosens his hold on Barnabas’ hair, scratching briefly at his scalp. “Let’s try again.”

He starts off much the same as before, with languid rolls of his hips that feed only the first few centimeters of his cock into Barnabas’ mouth. Barnabas shifts on his knees a bit, clearly frustrated and impatient, but he holds his head and neck still, letting Jonathan move as he pleases. It’d be remiss of Jonathan not to reward such behavior, even as begrudgingly given as it is.

Without warning, Jonathan picks up his pace, snapping his hips forward until he’s sunk his cock back into Barnabas fully. Barnabas chokes a bit at first, surprise flitting across his face at the abrupt change, but he melts into it quickly, eyes falling shut with a contented sigh. His face is the picture of bliss, cheeks and nose flushed pink with pleasure, lips spit-slick and stretched wide to accommodate Jonathan’s cock. He’s beautiful like this, Jonathan thinks, lovelier than he could ever hope to describe.

Jonathan is so caught up in his thoughts that he doesn’t notice when Barnabas’ arm first begins to move. It’s only when his eyes stray down from his face to his neck, intent on the lines of Barnabas’ throat as he swallows Jonathan down, that he sees the way Barnabas’ shoulder bunches and his bicep twitches. For a moment, Jonathan worries that he’s missed Barnabas’ signal, and he stutters his hips to a stop, pulling out from Barnabas’ mouth entirely.

And then realization hits him. The rhythmic movement of Barnabas’ arm, the hitched little noises he moaned out around Jonathan’s cock. Sure enough, Jonathan looks down to find Barnabas fisting his own cock, slicking precome down the length of it with each stroke.

Jonathan,” Barnabas gasps out, voice wrecked, hardly louder than a whisper. He’s close—Jonathan can hear it in his voice, that edge of desperation it takes on just before he’s about to finish. Jonathan considers letting him, if only to watch his face as he tips over the edge.

But no. As much as Jonathan would like to see Barnabas spent and ruined at his feet, he could wait. And so, too, could Barnabas. Waiting made it all the sweeter.

Before he can change his mind, he crouches down to grab Barnabas by the wrist, stilling the movement of his hand. Barnabas’ hips twitch forward, trying to fuck into his own fist until Jonathan squeezes his fingers around his wrist in warning.

“I thought I told you to have patience?” Jonathan smooths his thumb across the back of Barnabas’ hand, circling around the point of bone at the outside of his wrist.

“I’ve been patient,” Barnabas insists, but his words have no real bite. He takes advantage of Jonathan’s position bent over him, tilting his head back to run the bridge of his nose up the column of Jonathan’s throat. “By your standards, patience includes no less than allowing yourself to be tortured.”

“Tortured?” Jonathan slides his hand up over Barnabas’ to press his thumb to the head of his cock, drawing a small circle at the tip to spread the bead of precome collected there. Barnabas shudders and gasps, bucking forward into the touch. “Some torture this is.”

“It most assuredly is!”

By this point, Barnabas has nosed his way up to Jonathan’s ear, and he presses his lips to the warm skin just below it. He shouldn’t humor him, but Jonathan tilts his head all the same, allowing Barnabas to continue his line of kisses across Jonathan’s jaw. It’s nearly enough to drive him to distraction, but not quite. When Barnabas starts to move—slowly, as if Jonathan might not notice, even with his hand covering Barnabas’—Jonathan catches him about the wrist once again.

“You’ll wait,” Jonathan starts, raising his voice to be heard over Barnabas’ groan. He has to fight tooth and nail to keep the smile out of his voice, to sound even remotely firm. “You’ll wait until I have you speared on my cock,” he says, relishing the way Barnabas jerks against him. “Then, and only then, can you finish.”

If Barnabas has a response to this that consists of actual speech, he doesn’t let on. But Jonathan doesn’t need his words to know his mind—the noises Barnabas makes are more than adequate in expressing how he feels about that idea.

“Up, you,” Jonathan says softly, straightening up and helping Barnabas to his feet. “Over my desk.”

Heat sparks in Barnabas’ eyes, nostrils flaring as he lets out a sharp exhale through his nose. He squeezes Jonathan’s hand once before he turns to move, but he doesn’t let it fall from his grasp until the very last moment, arm stretched out behind him far past the point of being uncomfortable, Jonathan imagines.

He watches him as he goes, taking in the small details he normally doesn’t have the chance to see. Barnabas hunches forward at the shoulders when he walks, a small, unconscious movement that draws him in on himself, makes him take up less space. Despite this, he carries himself with the sort of grace that, Jonathan suspects, can be ascribed to a childhood of sneaking around, or keeping himself as quiet and unobtrusive as he was able. And then, Barnabas’ most charming secret: he’s freckled. Not as splendidly as Jonah is, no, but they spread liberally over his back and across his shoulders, just one shade darker than the rest of his skin so that one might miss them if they weren’t looking.

Jonathan looks, though. He looks and he listens and he notices. Because Barnabas is worth noticing, worth paying attention to. He watches until Barnabas reaches the desk, until he leans forward onto his forearms, his back one long, sinuous line. When Barnabas tilts his head over his shoulder in his direction, Jonathan turns to fetch the vial of oil from his dresser. He’s not sure if he’s ready for Barnabas to see what is likely written plain across his face.

“You’re certainly taking your time,” Barnabas says drily. “One might begin to believe they’ve been forgotten about.”

“How could anyone forget about you?” Jonathan calls over his shoulder. “You never stop talking.”

“Oh, feeling clever, are we?” Barnabas watches him as he approaches, one eyebrow cocked and a little smirk playing across his lips. “Well, there’s no honor in poking fun at a poor, defenseless gentleman,” he sniffs. “It’s unsportsmanlike—unbecoming, even.”

Jonathan places the vial of oil on top of the desk, just before Barnabas’ nose. “Is that what you think of me?” he asks, averting his eyes to work at rolling up his shirtsleeves. “That I’m ‘unbecoming’?”

Barnabas darts a hand out, lightning quick, and grabs Jonathan’s hand. Startled, Jonathan looks over to see that Barnabas’ expression has turned serious.

“No,” he says slowly. “You know that isn’t true.”

There’s such conviction in his voice as he says it, such intensity in his eyes. Jonathan feels slightly abashed in the face of Barnabas’ earnest words. It had been a joke—a poor one, at that, but only a joke. He tries to explain.

“Barnabas—”

“I won’t embarrass you with the specifics,” he says, giving his hand a squeeze. “Suffice it to say that I meant what I said earlier in the evening: you are most handsome.”

Jonathan’s face heats at the words. It’s far from the first time that Barnabas has said them to him, but each time feels like the first, the jolt of surprise and pleasure a novelty no matter how many times he hears it. Outwardly, Jonathan huffs, a sound partway between amusement and exasperation. He slips his hand from Barnabas’ to get back to cuffing his shirtsleeves.

“Flattery won’t get me to bugger you any faster,” he mutters, trying and failing to suppress the small smile that curves his mouth. Barnabas’ laughter rings out in the room, a bright sound that has Jonathan smiling wider.

“Nothing will, evidently,” Barnabas quips. Then he sighs, an exaggerated, put-upon sound, and says, “It seems I’m forced to trust that you’ll get around to it eventually—at your leisure, of course.”

“At my leisure,” Jonathan agrees, taking up the vial of oil and warming it between his palms. “Because you don’t enjoy the anticipation a whit.”

“Of course I don’t,” Barnabas shoots over his shoulder as Jonathan settles behind him. “To hear you tell it, I’m a creature of absolute impatience—not a shred of forbearance to be found within me.”

“None, I’m afraid,” Jonathan says solemnly. He unstoppers the vial and spreads oil over his fingers until they’re thoroughly coated. “That is, of course, my professional opinion.”

“I see,” Barnabas says, shifting forward onto the balls of his feet. “Tell me then, doctor: what is there to be found within me? Because I can tell you with certainty that it isn’t y—!”

Barnabas breaks off into a gasp as Jonathan, without preamble, slides one finger smoothly inside him to the second knuckle. Jonathan sets the vial of oil down onto the desk and steps in closer until his thighs are nearly flush to Barnabas’ hips, cock pressed between Barnabas’ thighs.

“You were saying?” Jonathan asks mildly. He’s playing at calm and unaffected, but it’s always gratifying to see how responsive Barnabas is, how eager he is for Jonathan’s attentions, leaning into his every touch. It’s no different now, Barnabas canting his hips back to try and take more of Jonathan’s finger, shameless in his quest to take Jonathan deeper inside him. When Jonathan grabs him by the hip and holds him still against the desk, Barnabas groans out his frustration.

“W-What did I say about unsportsmanlike behavior?”

Jonathan takes his time in responding. He presses forward, sinking his finger into Barnabas until the last knuckle, watching his muscles flutter around him.

“As I recall it, you’d forgiven me for any and all such behavior,” Jonathan says, slowly starting to move inside Barnabas. “Now and going forward.”

“Did I?” Barnabas’ breath hitches on his next inhale as Jonathan works a second finger in beside the first. “Hmm… that’s not how I recall it.”

“Oh?” He spreads his fingers a little, stretching Barnabas just a bit more, and smiles when he hears him suck in a sharp breath through his teeth. “And how do you recall it?”

“Well,” Barnabas starts, trailing off to pant as Jonathan drags a knuckle against his prostate, light but insistent pressure that makes Barnabas twitch and shudder. The skin of Barnabas’ hip dimples under Jonathan’s fingers as he tightens his hold on him, keeping his hips from bucking wildly back against him.

“Yes?” Jonathan prompts, laughter coloring his voice. He slides his fingers back until just the tips remain inside, hooked against the rim of that sensitive ring of muscle, pulling upwards, holding Barnabas open.

“It-it doesn’t matter!” Barnabas bursts out, raising himself back onto his toes to relieve some of the pressure. “Damnit, Jonathan, more.”

His voice breaks on the last syllable, high and trembling in his need. Unfortunately for Barnabas, desperation is a very good look on him, and Jonathan isn’t inclined to rid him of it just yet. Clemency could be granted later; for now, Jonathan intends to make him beg.

“And why should I oblige you?” Jonathan twists his wrist, turning to press a thumb firmly against Barnabas’ perineum. The guttural moan it forces from him only spurs Jonathan on. “You know I don’t like to reward bad behavior—and you behaved very poorly this evening.”

Jonathan,” Barnabas hisses, “be reasonable.”

Though his words come out sharp, Barnabas softens at the edges, arching his back languidly and putting himself on display. Barnabas likes to huff and complain, to act as if he can’t bear Jonathan’s slow preparations—riling him up unfairly, as he’s wont to say. But Jonathan knows that it’s all for show. That for all his bluster, for all his pleas for more and faster, Barnabas prefers it this way: to be worked slowly and steadily towards his peak, kept open and pleading and utterly at Jonathan’s mercy, sometimes even for hours.

And Jonathan likes it just as much. Likes to sink his hands into the softness of Barnabas’ body, drawing him unhurriedly into shuddering anticipation, suspending him at the edge of his pleasure until the tension finally breaks and he falls pliant and yielding once more. Likes to see Barnabas trembling underneath him, cheeks flushed and tear-stained, mouth falling open around hushed, reverent words until he’s driven into incoherence.

Yes, Barnabas’ posturing and teasing is as much for Jonathan’s benefit as it is his own. So, when Barnabas asks him to be reasonable, Jonathan decides to show him a measure of lenience—within reason, of course.

He presses a third finger against Barnabas’ hole, bearing down against the slight resistance he meets until the tip of it pops in alongside the rest.

Thank you,” Barnabas breathes out, pointed but sincere. But when Jonathan makes no move to push his fingers in any further, Barnabas grunts in annoyance and thrusts his hips back against Jonathan’s hand. For once, Jonathan lets him, content to watch as Barnabas sinks down onto his fingers with a sigh.

It’s a tight fit. Barnabas’ muscles press in all around Jonathan’s fingers, clenching rhythmically as he gets used to the stretch. Jonathan lets him acclimate, listening to his breath shudder and catch with each minute twitch of his hips. And when it seems like Barnabas has finally grown accustomed to the fingers inside him, when it seems that he’s about to move, Jonathan decides to remind him who exactly is in control.

He flattens his hand against Barnabas’ lower back, pinning him to the desk, and thrusts his fingers forward, pressing them into his prostate. Barnabas cries out in surprise, hips involuntarily jerking back into Jonathan’s hand. Using the thumb pressed to his perineum as a counterpoint, Jonathan crooks his fingers, applying firm pressure that sets Barnabas to babbling, a litany of ohs and pleases falling from his lips. Jonathan rolls the pads of his fingers over the nub, pulsing them against it, and Barnabas squirms, burying his face into his arms as his breathing grows harsh.

Jonathan can only imagine the mess he’s making of him. Cock stiff and leaking, bobbing against his stomach with every twitch of his hips, smearing precome into the hair that trails down to his groin. He wonders if he’ll get him to cry this time. Overwhelm him to the point of tears—until his breath hitches into little sobs, until he’s mewling into the desk.

“Please,” Barnabas whimpers. His thighs are trembling now, his shoulders bunched and tense. “Please, I need—I need you.”

“But you already have me.” To prove his point, Jonathan bears down steadily with his fingers until Barnabas whines, high and desperate. It’s cruel of him, he knows, but he wants to hear Barnabas say it—to tell him exactly what it is he wants.

“N-Not like that. I mean—” Barnabas’ words are swallowed by a groan as Jonathan picks up the pace, rubbing his fingers in small, firm circles that have Barnabas twitching all over.

“Hm? What do you mean then?”

Barnabas shakes his head, refusing to say it. Being difficult, then—being stubborn. Well, Jonathan has dealt with plenty of people more stubborn than Barnabas, many of whom were much less receptive to gentle words and the promise of praise. He smooths his hand up Barnabas’ spine to the nape of his neck, leaning forward until his chest is flush to Barnabas’ back.

“Barnabas,” he says, pressing a kiss between his shoulder blades. “Tell me.”

"God, Jonathan, your cock.” The words tumble out of him all at once, as if he can’t possibly hold them in any longer. “Please, just—please.”

“There’s a lad,” Jonathan says soothingly, stilling his hand inside Barnabas. He reaches up to push back the hair that has fallen into Barnabas’ face, brushing his knuckles gently over his cheek to clear away his tears. “So good for me.”

Barnabas sighs in response, a small, pleased sound among his sniffling, and slowly opens his eyes. It thrills Jonathan to see him like this, lashes clinging wetly together as he looks up at him over his shoulder, eyes hazy with want and pleasure both. To have such an effect on Barnabas, to be the cause of that look and those sounds—his heart races at the thought, warmth blooming in his chest.

“Here?” Jonathan asks, gentling a hand down Barnabas’ flank. “Or on the bed?”

“Here,” Barnabas says, “I’m afraid my legs won’t carry me to the bed!” He chuckles a bit and blinks away the last of his tears. Jonathan watches as they roll down his cheeks to his chin where they cling in fat drops until they fall. “Just-just give me a moment.”

“Of course,” Jonathan says softly. There's no rush, after all. They have all night and, blessedly, nowhere to be in the morning. It’s rare that Jonathan has so much time to spare these days, and he intends to make the most of it.

With Barnabas’ murmured assent, Jonathan begins to slide his fingers from his body. Slowly, giving him time to adjust. The breathy sounds Barnabas presses to the inside of his wrist increase in pitch as Jonathan eases his hand back, and he rubs a gentle hand between Barnabas’ shoulders in an effort to coax the tension in them away. When his fingers finally slip free, Barnabas’ breath leaves him in a long sigh, hole fluttering around the new emptiness inside him.

Jonathan straightens up, taking a moment to wipe his hand clean before he attends to Barnabas again. “How are you feeling?”

Barnabas has one cheek pressed to the top of the desk, and his voice is muffled when he replies. “M’good.” Groaning a bit, he lifts himself back onto his elbows and raises an eyebrow at Jonathan from over his shoulder. “And I imagine I’ll soon be feeling quite a bit better.”

“Yes, I imagine you will.”

Ignoring Barnabas’ scoff, Jonathan reaches once more for the oil and spreads it liberally over his cock. He catches Barnabas watching him, twisting at the shoulders for a better look. There’s naked desire written on his face—in the way his eyes are trained on the motion of Jonathan’s hand, the way his teeth bite into his bottom lip. Keeping his own face carefully neutral, Jonathan slows down, sliding his palm slowly up the shaft of his cock, twisting his wrist as he reaches the head.

Barnabas groans at the sight, hanging his head between his shoulders, forehead plunking down onto the desk. “Now who’s the tease?”

Jonathan can’t help but laugh at his grumbling. “Alright,” he says with good humor. “I’ve tortured you for long enough.”

“Hear, hear,” Barnabas mutters sardonically. But his peevishness is short-lived. He sucks in a breath through his teeth as Jonathan slides a hand down to his backside, spreading him open for his view.

“Ready for me?” Jonathan asks, rubbing the tip of his cock over Barnabas’ hole.

“I’ve been ready for you all evening,” Barnabas says, voice edging into hysteria.

Who is Jonathan to deny him any longer?

Adjusting his stance, Jonathan holds his cock steady as he presses forward, watching the head of it slip into Barnabas’ body. Even though he’s been well prepared, Jonathan knows it’s still a stretch—he can hear it in the hitch of Barnabas’ breath as he slides in deeper. Jonathan remembers the feel of Barnabas around his fingers: the exquisite heat of him, the tensing of his muscles as Jonathan moved inside him.

But it’s different like this, somehow. Even the sounds Barnabas makes are different, like they come from somewhere deeper in his chest. And though Jonathan can’t feel Barnabas like this, not directly, the act of it gets to him like little else does. His heart pounds in his ears and his breathing turns harsh as Barnabas sinks down further onto his cock. Jonathan grabs him by the hips, filling his palms with soft, heated flesh as he pulls Barnabas back, bottoming out inside him.

They spend a long moment just like that, quiet save for the sounds of their breath, pressed so close together that Jonathan swears he can feel the race of Barnabas’ heart, synced with his own. It’s always been a bit of a wonder for Jonathan, the way that two bodies could come together like this. For most of his life, he’d avoided it entirely, the incongruity between his body and those of other men too great for him to even countenance the thought. Even now that he keeps the company of those who are like him, he’s often more inclined to participate for the pleasure of his partner than for his own. But sometimes… sometimes it was like this, with his blood singing through his veins, his body feeling wholly his own.

“Jonathan?” Barnabas asks quietly, drawing him from his reverie. He’s looking at Jonathan from over his shoulder, soft and doe-eyed, flushed pink across the apples of his cheeks. When he smiles at him, small and a bit shy, Jonathan is filled with a feeling he’s almost too afraid to name. Something that is at once gentle and more intense than anything he’s ever felt before. Like sinking slowly into a hot bath, until all the aches and tension ease away, until only warmth and softness are left behind.

Barnabas is still looking up at him, watching his face, waiting and—and this isn’t the time for such considerations. Jonathan shifts his gaze away, focusing instead on the freckled curve of Barnabas’ shoulder as he clears his head. He’d have time to examine the feeling later, after they had blown out the last of the candles and gone to bed, nothing left between Jonathan and his thoughts. But now, he has Barnabas underneath him, warm and welcoming and wanting, and he doesn’t intend to keep him waiting any longer.

Flexing his hands around Barnabas’ plush hips, Jonathan holds him fast against the desk as he draws back, pulling out until only the head of his cock remains inside. Barnabas inhales sharply through his nose, and Jonathan watches as his hands curl into fists against the top of the desk.

“So, you’ve been ready for me all evening then?” It’s the only thing Jonathan can think to say. He feels a bit rattled by his revelations, truth be told, but he doesn’t want that to color the evening. So, he tries to slip back into the role he’d played before: goading and teasing Barnabas into desperation, keeping him talking long past the point where words begin to fail him.

“Jonathan,” Barnabas says with a sigh. “Surely you need no more proof of my desire than what lays before you.”

Not quite effective yet. Jonathan presses back into him, harder this time, tightening his grip on Barnabas’ hips. It punches a sound out of him, quite a bit more yelp than moan, but he pushes back into Jonathan all the same.

“A verbal account from the patient in question is just as important as the physical examination.” Keeping his thrusts long and smooth, Jonathan begins to pick up his pace. “You should know this by now.”

“‘Physical examination’,” Barnabas mutters sourly, and for which Jonathan gives him a reproving pinch on the hip. “Ouch! No need to be so barbaric.” It’d be a more convincing lie if Barnabas didn’t bookend it with a shuddering moan, angling his hips to take Jonathan deeper.

“That remains to be seen,” Jonathan says, biting back a laugh at Barnabas’ play at petulance. He knew Barnabas too well by now to be fooled by that tone—knew to read it as the invitation for more that it was. As much as Barnabas liked to be subject to Jonathan’s praise, he wanted to feel as though he had properly earned it first. “What had you so riled up in the theatre then?”

“Is-is being accompanied by so attractive a man not sufficient enough reason for my, ah, enthusiasm?”

He can hear the beginnings of it in Barnabas’ voice now, the thread of hot embarrassment that coils through his arousal. Jonathan catches hold of it and tugs.

“Mm, enthusiasm is certainly a word for it,” Jonathan says, a bit breathlessly. “But something tells me that’s not the entirety of it. What exactly put you in such a state that you saw fit to grope at me in the dark like some overeager schoolboy?”

“That’s—hm! That’s not the case.”

“Then what was?”

“I-I thought…” But then Barnabas breaks off, burying his face against his forearm.

“None of that,” Jonathan says, sinking one hand into his hair and pulling gently until Barnabas raises his head. And then he keeps pulling, tugging Barnabas toward him until he’s drawn like a bow, back arched into a deep curve. “I want to hear it.”

His response isn’t immediate. But Jonathan is patient and merely holds himself still inside Barnabas as he waits out the heavy pause. It isn’t a question of if Barnabas will answer, but when—when the desire to please Jonathan finally wins out over his ingrained embarrassment. He doesn’t keep Jonathan waiting for long.

“I thought,” Barnabas begins again, “about getting on my knees for you. About... about sucking your cock.” The tips of Barnabas’ ears turn charmingly red and he squirms in Jonathan’s grasp. “We were in the box alone. No one would have seen or, or known. A-And you’re so quiet—”

“And you are decidedly not.”

Jonathan starts moving again, snapping his hips against Barnabas’ backside as he thrusts back in, grinding his cock deeper inside him. Barnabas shouts, loudly—and that was Jonathan’s point proven, wasn’t it? Barnabas rarely holds back on making noises when Jonathan takes him, even if he means to, even if he tries. Jonathan can’t imagine him becoming suddenly capable of maintaining his composure just because he was in public. Subtlety of that sort was more in Jonah’s wheelhouse; that is, when the man actually bothered to exercise any sort of restraint.

“I could be!” Barnabas reaches an arm back, hand grasping at Jonathan’s thigh, trying to pull him closer. “If you asked me to, I would be.”

This, Jonathan believes. There’s little Barnabas wouldn’t do, Jonathan suspects, if only he asked it of him. He might put on a show of dragging his feet or running his mouth, but he saw to anything sincerely asked for, whether in their day-to-day lives or in moments like this one.

“I know,” Jonathan murmurs. Slowing his pace, he leans forward to press his lips to the skin between Barnabas’ shoulder blades, rolling his hips languidly to feel Barnabas shudder and shake in his arms. He noses along the nape of his neck, nipping gently at the bunched muscles, and slides his hand around Barnabas’ hip to his belly, squeezing at the softness he finds there.

Barnabas is given to indulgence—to decadent meals and fine wines and lazy mornings spent tangled up in bed. He wears the evidence of this in the lines of his body: in the broadness of his chest, the thickness of his belly, the lushness of his thighs. Jonathan buries himself in that inviting softness, the counterpoint to all of his own sharpness and severity. The coarse, dark hair that trails from Barnabas’ navel is slick with his precome, and Jonathan cards his fingers through it, down until he can wrap them around his cock.

Jonathan.” Barnabas breathes his name like a prayer, stuck between canting his hips back to take more of him and bucking forward into his fist.

Jonathan slides his hand from his hair, reaching around to wrap his arm around Barnabas’ chest and guide him down to lean on his forearms against the top of the desk. “I’ve got you,” he says, words muffled against the soft skin of Barnabas’ neck. “I’ve got you.”

Barnabas doesn’t last long after that. Jonathan works him through the aftershocks, catching Barnabas’ spend in his palm and slicking it down his cock as he twitches against his hand. It’s a mess, he thinks. But for now, with Barnabas making soft, contented noises and pressing reverent kisses to the inside of his wrist, it’s alright. He pulls Barnabas closer with the arm he has wound around him, hand pressed flat to his chest to feel the beat of his heart against his palm.

When they’ve both managed to catch their breath, Jonathan straightens up again and carefully pulls out from Barnabas’ body. He laughs gently at the mournful whine Barnabas makes when he does, and pauses to scratch at his scalp with his clean hand.

“Just a moment.” Taking up a cloth, he wipes his own hand clean before moving to help Barnabas with the same. “And here I thought you might have finally seen the virtue in patience.”

Barnabas huffs loudly, his eye roll nearly a palpable thing. He seems to still be beyond words for the moment. Good.

He’s in the process of unbuckling the harness when he notices Barnabas watching him. His eyes are hooded and intent as they follow Jonathan to the bed where he sits to slide the harness down and off his legs.

“Surely you can’t be ready to go again?” Jonathan asks, disbelieving. This time, he can see the eye roll that earns him, but the smile on Barnabas’ lips is small and fond.

“Let me see to you,” Barnabas says softly. “Let me take care of you.”

Jonathan hesitates, at first, unsure of what it is he himself wants. Looking over Barnabas’ face, he finds nothing but warm satisfaction and affection there—no insistence, no expectation. He squeezes his thighs together and finds that, yes, he’s very much affected: drawers slick and clinging, cock throbbing at the slightest pressure. He doesn’t want someone else to touch him there tonight, he thinks, but… He remembers the sight of Barnabas on his knees before him, face flushed with pleasure, and makes up his mind.

“Come here.”

Barnabas obliges him at once, crossing the room in three quick strides and sinking to his knees to insinuate himself between Jonathan’s legs. He makes no move to touch Jonathan—simply looks up at him from under dark lashes and waits for further instruction.

Jonathan reaches out to cup Barnabas’ jaw, guiding him forward to lay his cheek on his thigh. “Close your eyes,” he tells him, brushing a thumb over his temple as Barnabas’ eyes flutter closed.

Heart thudding in his chest, Jonathan fumbles at the buttons of his trousers, undoing just enough to be able to slide his hand under them and down between his legs. Even through his drawers he can feel how wet he’s grown, and when he presses down against his cock, the fabric is slick enough to turn the friction pleasurable.

When Barnabas reaches out and smooths a hand up his calf, squeezing just under his knee, Jonathan lets out the breath he’d been holding and relaxes into the touch. He’s being more indulgent about all this than he usually is, rubbing his fingers in slow circles over his cock, taking his time. Warmth builds between his legs, coiling low in his belly and radiating outwards to his limbs, his face. It’s good—better than good—and his hips twitch forward into his hand of their own accord.

“Jonathan,” Barnabas murmurs, pressing his face into Jonathan’s leg, breath hot on his thigh. He’s gentle in the afterglow of orgasm, free from pretense and inhibition. Just Barnabas.

Jonathan shifts his hand to run a thumb over Barnabas’ bottom lip, still flushed and swollen from earlier in the night. Barnabas tilts his head into the touch and lets his mouth fall open, just a little, in wordless invitation. Drawing in a shuddering breath, Jonathan slides his thumb past his lips into that warm, welcoming heat. He thinks of how Barnabas had looked with his cock in his mouth, the way his lips stretched wide around it, the pink of his tongue when it darted out to lick at the head. And the sounds he had made—wet and obscene as he sucked kisses down the shaft of it, choked off and desperate when Jonathan had fucked into his throat.

Jonathan slides his thumb out from Barnabas’ mouth, only to immediately replace it with his fore and middle fingers. His hips jerk in time with his thrusts, fingers at his cock speeding up as the ones in Barnabas’ mouth push in deeper, over the back of his tongue and towards his throat. Barnabas takes them eagerly, sucking around them, moaning deeply, and that’s what sends Jonathan over the edge. He comes with a bitten-off moan, breathing sharply through his nose, cock twitching against his hand. Barnabas continues to suckle at his fingers as Jonathan comes back down, stroking a soothing hand up and down the back of Jonathan’s leg.

When his heart has stopped racing quite so fast, Jonathan rights himself and pulls his fingers gently from Barnabas’ mouth. He clears his throat before he speaks. “You can open your eyes now.”

Barnabas does, slowly, like a satisfied cat waking up from a long afternoon nap. “’Lo,” he says, muffled against Jonathan’s thigh.

“Hello,” Jonathan replies, softly. Now that he’s looking, Barnabas seems close to sleep, his breathing slow and calm, the lines of his body relaxed. Jonathan leans forward to get his hands under Barnabas’ elbows, pulling him upward. “Let’s get you into bed.”

Barnabas waits patiently as Jonathan turns down the covers, a warm, quiet presence at his side. He goes eagerly when Jonathan ushers him onto the mattress, curling onto his side and adjusting the pillow until his face is half buried in it.

Before Jonathan can step back, Barnabas shoots a hand up to grasp at his wrist. When Jonathan looks back at him, he can only see one of his eyes, glittering in the low light of the room.

“Won’t you join me?”

“In a moment,” Jonathan says. “Let me wash up first.”

Barnabas hums quietly in assent and settles back down into the bed, drawing the covers up to his chin. Smiling, Jonathan goes about getting ready for bed, washing his hands in the small basin in the corner of the room and changing into his nightclothes. By the time he returns to the bedside, Barnabas’ eyes are shut and his breathing has grown slow and deep.

Jonathan blows out the candle on the nightstand and slides carefully under the covers, doing his best not to disturb Barnabas. Like a flower to the sun, Barnabas turns into Jonathan, nestling into his side with his head tucked under his chin. He snuffles briefly against Jonathan’s shoulder, and then, in a voice softened and slurred by sleep, he murmurs, “Love you.”

Jonathan tenses for a moment, disbelieving of what he’d heard. His heart pounds in his chest, loud enough that he’s sure Barnabas must be able to hear it. But Barnabas seems to have drifted off once again, breathing quiet and even.

There in the dark, where no one else can see, Jonathan lets hope fill his chest, a smile breaking out across his face. He lays a hand over Barnabas’ where it rests on his stomach and gives it a small squeeze.

“I love you, too.”

Jonathan sleeps better that night than any other in recent memory.