Adult readers only. If the idea of a discipline relationship between consenting adult men offends you, so will this story.
ELIZABETH MARSHALL STORIES
Once Upon A Time
Jeffrey was cooking in an expensive tourist trap in his small coastal Oregon hometown when he was offered the job as sous chef at the upscale chain DeGustibus's Portland outpost. He was ready for a change; Portland seemed like a promising place to be young and gay.
DeGustibus was not what he'd expected at all. Jeffrey hated his new job. He'd learned to cook in a variety of small kitchens: A bed and breakfast, an organic restaurant, a diner. His coworkers had trained at WCI and they made him feel like trash.
Jeffrey wasn't much of a drinker, but last night he'd bought a bottle and finished it, in a vain effort to soothe his misery. This morning his head ached and his mouth felt like cotton. He downed aspirin and orange juice, forced himself into his sneakers and out into the fog.
Jeffrey ran determinedly, though each stride prompted even more icepick jabs behind his eyes. Distracted by the pain, he skidded on a patch of slick, loose gravel and went down hard. His foot doubled under him, and it hurt so unbelievably much that for a moment or two all he saw was white spinning brightness.
And then Jeffrey was sitting by the side of the road and it was clear there was no way his ankle was going to take his weight.
Shit, shit, shit.
Merrill rounded the curve, slowing to avoid slipping on the wet gravel underfoot, his eyes on the terrain ahead. He slowed further as he saw the man sitting at the side of the road, one foot outstretched before him, holding his other ankle with both hands, his eyes wide and face white.
"You all right?" Merrill asked, coming to a halt.
Big blue eyes searched his face as if he'd spoken in another language.
"You okay?" Merrill tried again. He bent over, breathing hard from his own run. Blue Eyes looked at him blankly.
Was he okay? Jeffrey looked into the concerned hazel eyes and swallowed hard. How long had it been since someone had actually wanted to know?
"Are you hurt?" Merrill asked, beginning to worry. Something seemed seriously wrong here. "Can you understand me?"
"I'm okay," Jeffrey said. "I'm okay, just..." He shrugged, waving his hand at his ankle. "It can't be broken!"
"May I take a look?" Merrill crouched down. "I've been a runner for a long time; I'm pretty good with this kind of thing."
Jeffrey nodded yes and Merrill unlaced his sneaker. He explored Jeffrey's foot and ankle with gentle fingers, first probing gingerly, then rotating the joints gently. There was swelling, but it didn't look as if anything were out of place and he'd be willing to bet it was a soft tissue injury, not a break.
"I think it's just sprained." He eased his cell phone from the pocket of his sweats. "It's still going to be a bitch to walk on. Is there someone I can call for you?"
"Call?" Jeffrey echoed. "I don't know. I'm okay, you don't have to--"
"Look, you can't stay here, it's too cold and it's going to rain," Merrill said. "Put your sneaker back on and let me help you up. There's a Starbucks just a bit further on; at least you'll be warm and dry there."
"Yeah, I know it," Jeffrey said. "I can make it."
Merrill got his shoulder under Jeffrey's arm and heaved him to his feet. Gritting his teeth against the pain, Jeffrey half-hopped, half-hobbled down the road. He was pale and sweaty by the time they reached Starbucks.
"Here," Merrill said, easing Jeffrey into a chair. "You sit; I'll get you something." He waved off Jeffrey's protests. "My treat. What would you like?"
"A grande latte then, with lots and lots sugar, please." Jeffrey sighed. "Caffeine sounds wonderful."
Merrill squeezed his shoulder sympathetically before turning toward the counter. He ordered two grande lattes, added sugar to Jeffrey's and brought them back to the table.
Jeffrey cupped his hands around his coffee and inhaled the steam. He'd gotten chilled as he sat by the side of the damp road and the coffee felt good, hot and sweet and strong.
"Thank you. My name's Jeffrey."
Merrill watch Jeffrey drink. Gradually a little pink came back into his white cheeks.
"Do you live around here?" Merrill asked. "Is there someone who can give you a lift home?"
"Um...yeah," said Jeffrey softly.
Merrill knew a "no" when he heard it.
"I can pick up my car," Merrill said. "I'm not far from here. You stay put and I'll give you a ride wherever, how would that be?"
"It's a lot of trouble for you," Jeffrey said uncertainly, but without refusing outright. He'd been dependent on the mercy of strangers before; this guy seemed nice and Jeff trusted his own judgment.
"It's fine," Merrill said firmly. "Finish your coffee. I'll be right back."
Merrill had actually been returning home when he'd encountered Jeffrey. This Starbucks was on the final loop of his run. It didn't take him long to retrieve his car.
"Thanks," Jeffrey said as they reached his ramshackle frame house. He'd gotten his color back and with it much of his spirit. "It's the upstairs apartment, in the back."
"I'll help you upstairs?" Merrill offered.
"That'd be good," Jeffrey agreed.
Merrill looked curiously around Jeffrey's apartment. There were plants on the window sill, a computer, a television and speakers. A couch that looked second hand, a bookcase, a neat pile of papers on a scarred wooden coffee table. Nothing revealed anything about the man who lived there.
"Thanks a lot," Jeffrey said, sinking heavily onto the couch.
"Can I get you anything before I go?" Merrill asked awkwardly.
"Maybe a glass of juice? I don't know if I can manage to get up again..." Jeffrey gestured toward the kitchen. He was almost sure he was right about Merrill. "Get yourself something too if you like."
"That's all ri--" Merrill broke off mid-sentence.
Jeffrey held his breath. He knew what was magnetized to the front of the refrigerator: A glossy brochure from the Portland Gay Men's Chorus.
"Thanks, I think I will," Merrill said. He returned with two glasses of juice. Setting them on the coffee table, he sat down on the couch beside Jeffrey. "So are you a musician? Or just a music lover?"
"I don't really know much about choral music," Jeffrey said. He gave a small, self-deprecating shrug. "But I figured it might be a good way to meet classy guys."
"There are worse strategies, I'm sure." Jeffrey's candor made Merrill laugh. "It so happens I have an extra ticket for their benefit concert with the Vancouver Men's Chorus Saturday evening. Would you like to join me?"
"I–" Jeffrey's eyes lit up for a moment. Then he shook his head regretfully. "I'm sorry, Merrill, I wish I could, but I'm a sous chef over at DeGustibus. Saturday's our busiest night; there's no way I can get off. I'm sorry." He looked genuinely disappointed.
"That's all right, we can do something another time," Merrill said. "DeGustibus, you say? They've catered a few openings for us. I'm the associate curator for European art at the Portland Art Museum."
"Awesome." Jeffrey looked suitably impressed.
"It's a living." Merrill said modestly, even as he preened a little.
"Do you love it?" Jeffrey asked wistfully.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to help shape a very fine collection," Merrill said.
"I don't even know what that means." Jeffrey's shoulders drooped.
"I didn't mean to sound pedantic," Merrill said. "I get asked if I love it a dozen times at every opening, and that's my conditioned response."
Jeffrey looked at Merrill blankly.
Clearly his apology meant even less than his original faux pas, Merrill thought. And they'd been doing so well...
"How's your ankle?" Merrill took refuge on safer ground.
"Not too bad," Jeffrey said. "Thanks for rescuing me. I guess you probably have things you need to do?" The slight rise in pitch at the end of his sentence made it more question than statement.
"Nothing that's urgent," Merrill said easily. "Can I get you some aspirin? And do you have stuff? I can tape your ankle for you if you'd like."
"Aspirin's in the bathroom cabinet. There might be bandages in there, too," Jeffrey said.
There were. There were also a small bulb syringe, condoms and lube.
Well, well, well. Merrill ran his hand meditatively over his mouth, wondering just how much Jeffrey had intended him to see. He took the aspirin bottle and an Ace bandage, shut the medicine cabinet firmly and returned to the living room.
"Here you go," Merrill said, handing Jeffrey the bottle of aspirin. Jeffrey shook three into his hand and gulped them with the last of his juice. "Do you want me to wrap your ankle?"
"You've done this before?" Jeffrey said, even as he extended his foot.
"Oh yeah." Merrill eased off Jeffrey's sock, took one turn of bandage around his instep to secure it, and began a series of precise figure eights over the ankle which left the joint snugly supported. "Here, put it up on this." He patted the coffee table. "Have you got any ice?"
"There should be gel packs in the freezer." Jeffrey was suddenly exhausted. He leaned back against the cushions, his eyes closing.
"Looks like it just caught up with you," Merrill said sympathetically. "Look, do you want to lie down in your bed?"
"That sounds good," Jeffrey admitted. "Help me?" He extended his hand and Merrill pulled him up.
"I'm going to get you some ice. Go lie down and I'll be right there," Merrill said.
Jeffrey hopped across the living room and down the short hallway to his bedroom. Meanwhile Merrill wrapped a gel pack in a dish towel. Finding Jeffrey flat on his back in his bed, Merrill propped Jeffrey's bandaged ankle on a pillow and draped the ice over it. Jeffrey hissed at the cold.
"It will help," Merrill said gently. "Rest, ice, compression, elevation. All the good stuff."
"Thank you." Jeffrey's limpid blue eyes sought Merrill's hazel ones. "Stay a little?"
"Sure," Merrill said, surprising himself. He seated himself next to Jeffrey on the bed, reaching for his hand. Jeffrey shifted over, wincing. "Here, let me..." Merrill rearranged Jeffrey so that his head was on the pillows, his foot properly aligned, and so that there was space in the bed for a second body. He stretched out alongside Jeffrey.
"Yeah," Jeffrey sighed contentedly. "I like this. Stay, okay?" His eyes closed and his breathing deepened and he fell into exhausted sleep.
Merrill studied the young man beside him. Jeffrey's hair was a dirty blond, his skin fair with the faintest trace of post-adolescent acne along cheeks and jaw. His mouth was tense and his forehead wrinkled; even though he was asleep, he was clearly in some pain. Almost unconsciously, Merrill stroked Jeffrey's face gently, wanting to soothe him. Jeffrey made a soft, agreeable noise and turned into Merrill's touch.
Doesn't he realize how vulnerable he is? Merrill thought to himself, frowning. As charmed as he was by Jeffrey's trusting acceptance of his presence, Merrill was equally taken aback at how little caution Jeffrey had shown. Merrill stewed over Jeffrey's lack of common sense as Jeffrey continued to doze.
Jeffrey woke after only a brief nap. The shock of his injury had worn off; so had his hangover. He felt happier than he had in days. And hornier. Rolling over, Jeffrey pressed teasingly into Merrill.
"You're awake," Merrill said with a smile. "Hey, hey, hey, none of that...Jeffrey...I..."
It was hard to talk while you were being gently, determinedly groped. Merrill caught Jeffrey's wrist and pulled his hand from his crotch to his chest. "We need to talk."
"Oh," said Jeffrey, pushing up on his elbows and brushing his lips over Merrill's jaw. "You're sure?" He batted his eyelashes, vamping deliberately.
"Jeffrey!" Merrill laughed but didn't release him. "Settle down for a second, we *do* need to talk."
"Oh," said Jeffrey. He collapsed on top of Merrill, his head on Merrill's shoulder. "So talk."
"Jeffrey, has it occurred to you that I could be an axe murderer?" Merrill asked, torn between amusement and frustration.
"I don't think so," Jeffrey said placidly. "I'm a good judge of character. I've had to be."
Merrill wasn't sure how to respond. He stroked Jeffrey's hair gently back from his forehead, wanting to see his eyes. Jeffrey took his caress as an indication that Merrill was willing to continue. He tugged his hand free and began to unbutton Merrill's shirt.
"Jeffrey, stop," Merrill said, not very convincingly. The kid was sweet and obviously hot for him; there was stuff in the medicine cabinet, should things progress that far. Why not go for it?
Jeffrey explored Merrill's almost hairless chest with his fingers. He rolled one brownish nipple between his thumb and middle finger, coaxing it to a tight peak before moistening it with his tongue. Blew softly, laughing at Merrill's reaction.
"You brat! Stop that!" Merrill gasped, arching upward at the sensation. Suddenly his underwear felt astonishingly tight. He didn't protest when Jeffrey slid his clever hand under the waistbands of both shorts and sweats and eased them down.
Seeming unhampered by his bandaged ankle, Jeffrey too stripped. Rolling on top of Merrill, he aligned their cocks before lowering his weight, trapping both cocks between their pressed bellies. There was just enough precum to provide the perfect combination of lubrication and friction. Jeffrey kissed Merrill full on the lips and then opened his mouth to Merrill, letting Merrill explore with his tongue. Their breath mingled, their bodies ground together, and both men came hard, their thrusts faster as sticky fluid eased the movement.
"Oh god that was good," Merrill sighed.
"Yeah." Jeffrey was still panting. "Oh yeah." He rolled sideways, freeing their spent cocks.
"God," Merrill repeated.
"Are you religious then?" Jeffrey giggled.
"You!" Merrill sputtered. "What a brat you are, Jeffrey."
"I've heard that before." Jeffrey grinned at him. "What are you going to do, spank me?"
"I should," Merrill grumbled, his cock twitching back to life at the thought. "Maybe next time." He tucked Jeffrey more securely against him, careful of his bandaged ankle, and then tugged the sheets over both of them.
"So you're thinking about next time?" Jeffrey asked cautiously, not wanting to read too much into Merrill's statement.
"I'm thinking about next time," Merrill assured him. "If we'd talked first, I would have warned you: I don't do one night stands."
"I'm glad," Jeffrey said. He closed his eyes and relaxed into Merrill's embrace.
"We are going to talk, you know," Merrill whispered softly into Jeffrey's ear. "I want to get to know you better. I want you to get to know me better, too."
"I already know you're bossy." Jeffrey's grin took the sting out of his words. "I like that in a guy."
"Good," said Merrill. "I like you, too."