One for One

They took a cab back downtown after the concert. Maurice was still aglow from the music; Jay was enjoying seeing Maurice so unguardedly happy. Upstairs, door closed and locked behind them, Maurice unwrapped his cashmere scarf and shook out his overcoat. He hung them carefully on separate hangers to dry out.

"That was wonderful, Jay." Maurice's eyes sparkled and a few snowflakes still clung to his hair.

"You never get tired of it, do you?" Jay asked softly.

"Never." Maurice kissed him gently. "I love the Oratorio Society. The red velvet seats, the music, the voices, the bow ties. Since I was fourteen I've admired the bow ties."

"You're a very strange man, Maurice. I wonder about your taste sometimes. Well, as long as you don't ask me to wear one in bed–"


Jay stroked Maurice's hair back from his indignant eyes. He cupped Maurice's jaw in his palm, stroked his lips with his thumb and turning his head, leaned in, kissing him. Maurice tried to maintain his principled sulk, but Jay was persistent, nibbling and tickling, not releasing Maurice until Maurice's lips yielded to his tongue.

"Come to bed." Jay kissed Maurice's softened mouth gently, thoroughly. "I want to do evil things to you." He traced the zipper of Maurice's good dress slacks, feeling Maurice stiffen in response.

"You have no music in your soul. Do you ever think about anything but sex, Jay?" Maurice continued to grouse, even as he let himself be backed into the bedroom.

"I think about you, all the time. How much I love you, what a fine specimen of a man you are..."

"When you're next going to have your way with me. That *is* what most people mean by being obsessed with sex, Jay."

"Is that bad, Doctor?" Jay asked innocently. "Maybe I'm sick. Maybe you should check me out."

"What, you want to play doctor, Jay? That's work for me. It's like the prostitute in Rome said, 'My hobby is gardening.'" Maurice sprawled onto his back. "Maybe you should check *me* out. I ache. Lower. Lower. Right there. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh..."

Jay eased off Maurice's slacks and underwear, letting them fall to the floor. He ran his tongue in a lazy circle around the base of Maurice's cock, nibbled gently at his balls. His hand snaked to the night table, seeking the lube he knew was there. Flipping the cap with his thumb, Jay shot some onto his fingers and stroked the cool gel lightly over Maurice's tight opening.

"Cold!" Maurice protested, buttocks clenching. "Jay, you're going to kill me."

"I'll risk it. Keep still, let me examine you a little more closely–" Jay pressed Maurice's cheeks apart. "Maybe this is where the problem is, you seem very tense–" Jay slipped his index finger smoothly inside, crooking it at just the right angle.

"Shit! Oh god!" Maurice arched upwards. "Jesus, Jay, oh god, oh yes–"

Jay captured Maurice's cock with his mouth and worked it rapidly as he continued to massage the tender spot with his finger. Relishing every one of his lover's yelps and gasps, he forced Maurice quickly to a hard orgasm.

"I hope you're not dead," Jay said, looking with some satisfaction at his lover, now motionless on the bed. He traced a hand over the outline of his ribs; felt his ticklish lover quiver. "Good. You're breathing, I think you're alive. Say something."

"Oh god," Maurice managed. "Jay...."

"Yes?" Jay teased.

"Oh god." Maurice rolled over, his eyes closing. "I love you so much."

"I haven't had any yet," Jay murmured, stroking Maurice's flank gently and spooning behind him. "You may not still be hungry, but I am..." Parting Maurice's buttocks, Jay positioned his hard cock carefully and buried it in his sated lover.

"Oh, oh...." Maurice whimpered, every one of his nerve endings vibrating in exquisite post-orgasmic sensitivity. "Oh god..." He lay very quietly in a haze of pained pleasure and let Jay take him.

"Good night, Maurie," Jay whispered afterwards. "I love you."

"Um." Maurice was beyond words. "Um um."

Both men were early risers. Maurice ground beans and started coffee as Jay went through his morning yoga routine before the penthouse's floor to ceiling windows. Jay's catlike pleasure in his stretches made Maurice shake his head. Exercise was something Maurice loathed.

"I don't think exhibitionism is an accepted part of yoga practice," Maurice said jealously, thinking that anyone who happened to be looking across the way or up at the right angle from the street was being treated to quite a view of his partner's flimsily clad, enviably flexible body.

"Much you know," Jay teased, pushing up into a perfectly balanced headstand. His hips pressed forward, the good bits peeking darker and rosy through the loose legs of his shorts. Maurice's mouth went suddenly dry.

"Lie down," Maurice said. "Before you twist something important. God, Jay, I'm sure that's not safe."

"And here I thought you weren't looking," Jay teased, folding his knees to his chest and coming down easily. "No fun being an exhibitionist without an audience." He rolled onto his back, obviously erect.

Maurice used the remote to cue the vertical blinds. Silently they moved across their tracks, the louvers tilted just enough to conceal the apartment's interior but not entirely block the light. Kneeling alongside Jay, he slid the waistband of Jay's tented shorts carefully over his erection, down his thighs. Jay bent his knees and used one foot to take them off altogether. Leaning forward, Maurice traced the head of Jay's cock with a clever tongue, teased the bulging veins that netted the shaft, enjoying the slight salt taste of his lover after exercise.

Jay arched his back, loving Maurice's mouth on him. He slipped one hand behind his neck, propping his head on his arm so that he could watch as Maurice widened his mouth to take him fully.

Maurice slid his hand down Jay's cock, holding the skin taut as he worked his mouth over the straining organ. Not until Jay's thighs were rigid with tension did Maurice finally take pity on him. He fisted Jay's cock, a few hard, rhythmic strokes, and pulled him over the edge.

A satisfying amount of cum coated Jay's belly. Maurice retrieved Jay's discarded shorts and cleaned him up, then stretched out alongside Jay on the rug, rested his cheek on Jay's chest and listened to the hard beat of his lover's heart.

"Nice, Maurice," Jay said, when finally he could speak again. He stroked Maurice's freshly shaved cheek gently.

"I love you, too," Maurice said. "I'm getting too old for the floor though."

"You're a baby, Maurice," Jay said gently. "I like it on the floor."

"You like it anywhere," Maurice said waspishly.

"As long as it's with you," Jay agreed. "Come on, Maurie, let's have breakfast and figure out something else fun for today."

"I'm fine," Maurice said. "You don't need to worry about me."

"Who said anything about worrying?" Jay wrapped his leg over Maurice to pin him in place and tickled him until Maurice was squirming and giggling helplessly.

"Stop! Stop! Fine, Jay, you're the boss! Please!"

"That's better," Jay said serenely, taking pity on his ticklish partner and releasing him. He patted Maurice's butt just a little too firmly for it to be an altogether reassuring gesture. "I'll decide if I need to worry, thank you. Let me grab a shower before I eat."

Maurice settled back at the breakfast bar. He reopened the vertical blinds and relaxed over his coffee, studying their newest acquisition. Jay collected and traded artwork as the spirit moved him; his current infatuation with German neo-Gothic surrealism baffled Maurice, who would have described the entire movement as neo-ugly.

Maurice shrugged; as long as Jay was satisfied, he was too.


Maurice started; he hadn't noticed Jay's return.

"I'm just thinking," Maurice said.

"Well, stop," Jay said. "I said, let's take a drive out to the island and get lunch somewhere we can look at the ocean. "

"You want to drive out to the beach house?" Maurice was surprised; he and Jay had tried to avoid it since the murder.

"No, it's way too depressing. Let the real estate guy deal with it," Jay said. "He's getting plenty for his efforts."

"Do you think the house will sell after what happened?" Maurice asked.

"Out there?" Jay rolled his eyes heavenward. "When it comes to that area, notoriety helps, not hurts. Besides, half the people buying oceanfront these days tear down whatever's there and put up something new. We're going to make out very well financially with this, don't worry about that part of it." He scowled.

Maurice knew what the other part was, the part the scowl was for.

"Do you think Donovan misses the scene at all?" Maurice asked Jay. "He's cut himself off from it completely."

"I know." Jay was silent. "It's not only about Loren; Pete tainted it for him even before that. This isn't the first time Donovan's picked up the pieces after Pete did a job on some basket case; remember Manny?"

"What a screwed up piece of work that one was." Maurice sighed. "I know Donovan still blames Pete for what happened, but Manny was courting disaster from the beginning."

Jay nodded, remembering Manuel's death and Donovan's reaction. Donovan had been beside himself at the news. He had raged bitterly, almost incoherent with anguished grief.

"That bastard! That motherfucking, sadistic bastard! He killed him, Jay, he killed him as surely as if he'd tied the noose himself."

"How do you know that, Donovan?" Jay had never liked Manuel, his mood swings, his demands for attention. He was, in Jay's opinion, a disastrous excuse for a submissive: More fool Pete for getting involved with him. "Maybe Manny wanted what Pete offered, Donovan."

"Pete took someone vulnerable and manipulated him until he didn't know up from down," Donovan had said bitterly. "He killed Manny. I will not be a part of any place where that irresponsible bastard is welcome, Jay. The man is a menace."

To Donovan it had been a nightmare. That pretty, foolish boy, running entirely on empty. Donovan had been younger, too, and too certain, perhaps, of the value of safe, sane, consensual kink to understand the attraction Pete held for Manny.

"If you want to be hurt, I'll hurt you," Donovan had said. He and Manny had been lying side by side in the dim light of a back bedroom. "Only leave him, Manny." He had studied the dark weals disfiguring the sweetly rounded buttocks he'd enjoyed, the blue bruising at the man's throat.

"You don't have it in you to hurt me," Manny had said bitterly. "Oh Donovan, you may be good with that strap, but you don't make me hurt inside like he does."

"I'll make you cry," Donovan had said. "If that's what you need."

"I don't need you to do what I want, I need you to want me to cry! I need you to want to hurt me, Donovan."

And that had been the one thing Donovan couldn't do.

"You're a good boy, Manny, you don't deserve to be treated like this." Donovan had taken Manny in his arms and Manny had cried as Donovan petted and kissed him. They had made love, Donovan on top, the way Manny liked it, and Donovan had held Manny afterward and had tried again to convince him to leave Pete.

Only when Manny finally left, it hadn't only been Pete he had left behind.

"I think we both remember Manny," Maurice said soberly. "That wasn't the whole of it, though..."

Maurice closed his eyes for a moment, remembering the what the scene at the beach house had been like, remembering the long ago summer when he had first known Jay. Maurice remembered what it was like waking to the early seaside dawn next to Donovan, the bedroom windows open, the hint of salt sweet in the air.


"Ah, Maurie." Donovan kissed him, his breath warm, his lips pleasantly rough. He stroked Maurice's dark hair back from his lean, intelligent face with great gentleness and genuine regret. Donovan was a skilled Top and a heavy pain player. The truth was that Maurice didn't really like pain: He never felt released by it and he never flew like he knew some subs did. Donovan and Maurice had ended up friends and fuck buddies.

To his chagrin, few of the big men Maurice liked wanted a boy like him, smart and sharp and competent. Maurice seemed to attract men who liked to play with humiliation and Maurice hated that. For sheer power and kindness, Donovan had set the standard for every other man Maurice played with.

Donovan's friend Jay was harsher and less patient than Donovan, with a sharp tongue and a sarcastic wit that put some people off and intrigued others. Maurice was a little intimidated by the sheer gorgeousness of Jay in leather pants so tight that they left nothing to the imagination.

"You want to play with me tonight?" Jay stroked the single tail whip over his own crotch seductively. He was a master with the difficult implement.

"Oh yeah," Maurice moaned, loving the look of the leather lash caressing Jay's leather clad package, hardening at the thought of its caress against his own flesh. "Yeah." Maurice let Jay lead him into one of the house's many back bedrooms.


"Usual safewords?" Jay asked "Yellow, slow down; red, stop?"

"Yes, sir." Maurice's cock had been rigid against his belly.

"Face the wall," Jay ordered, and Maurice obeyed. Jay took the butt end of the whip and rubbed him down with it, teased his legs apart, made him shiver in tense and fearful anticipation. Jay used the braided leather of the handle to scratch Maurice's nipples, to rasp against his scrotum with just enough pressure to make Maurice hold his breath against what would come next. Maurice trembled and Jay whispered sweet threats in his ear, his lips soft, his breath hot.

"Be a good boy for me, Maurice. I'm going to whip you. You'll let me whip you, won't you, like the good boy you are." Jay undid the buttons on Maurice's shirt and slipped it off. He unlaced Maurice's fly and tugged the fitted pants down.

Jay caressed Maurice's back and shoulders with the whip before bringing the lash down across his back. Maurice felt the lick of heat and moaned, his cock impossibly hard. Jay whipped Maurice, shoulders, back and butt, leaving crisp, beautiful marks. As the strokes continued, the hazy high of arousal competed with Maurice's increased awareness of pain. Maurice gritted his teeth and tried to breathe through the pain, cursing himself, refusing to safeword out. He wanted Jay, wanted him with an intensity he had never felt before. He could take this; for Jay, he could take this and more.

"Maurice?" Jay felt the struggle within Maurice and realized that it wasn't a happy struggle, that there was no pleasure in this for Maurice. Clearly Maurice was pushing himself to endure because he didn't want to end the scene, not because he was anticipating any pleasure from it.

Jay laid the whip aside and turned Maurice around. "You're a good boy," Jay said softly as he drew Maurice into his arms.

"You're not disappointed in me?" Maurice was disappointed in himself. He wanted Jay so badly it hurt, but just as badly he suddenly wanted someone who would not assume he was all right with the play just because he could endure it.

"I'm not disappointed in you. You're a good boy, Maurice. When I make you scream, it won't be from pain." Jay kissed Maurice gently.

"Oh yes." Maurice responded to Jay's kiss with all the hidden ardor of his sweet, submissive self. "Yes, Jay."

"Come on, get dressed," Jay commanded. "Let's walk."

Maurice obeyed and Jay took his hand and led him down to the water. It was dark and quiet and still and they stood for a long moment, gazing at the ocean. Maurice was casting about for a conversational opener when he felt Jay backing them higher on the beach, onto dry sand still warm from the summer day's sun. Jay hooked his foot around Maurice's ankle and tumbled him backward onto the sand, not releasing Maurice's hand until Maurice was safely flat.

Jay dropped down beside him, his mouth seeking Maurice's, his fingers first tweaking Maurice's nipples through his shirt front, then scrabbling lower. Maurice let Jay's hands roam as he willed. Maurice's silent acquiescence was an extraordinary turn on for Jay; that this cultured, sensitive man would offer himself so completely touched Jay deeply. He was going to take very good care of Maurice, preferably forever.


"I remember you," Jay said softly, bringing Maurice back to the present. "Come on, Maurie, pack an overnight bag for us and we'll get started. I made reservations out at the old inn. I want to stay the night and come back tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" Maurice said weakly.

"You don't have patients scheduled, do you? I know I told you to clear your calendar. You're covering for people all through the Christmas week, so you can take a few days before the holiday without the world ending."

"Yes, Jay," Maurice said. They'd gone over this and Jay had been quite clear about his expectations, only Maurice hadn't expected that Jay would want to leave town. Still, there was no real reason not to except for–

"–your overdeveloped conscience," Jay said.

"What, now you're eavesdropping on my thought processes?" Maurice asked wonderingly.

"I don't have to eavesdrop. I know just how you think. Hurry up, I want to have time for a nap between lunch and dinner."

"Nap is a euphemism, no doubt," Maurice grumbled, but there was no conviction in his voice. Maurice was only a few years older than Jay, but he was very conscious of Jay's vitality and admired it even as he ruefully admitted to himself that he couldn't quite match it. Since Maurice was more often the passive partner, it didn't detract from their sex life and Maurice couldn't help feeling a tinge smug about his partner's sexual prowess. It was the ultimate reassurance that his own body was still attractive to his lover. It was part of the passionate connection they had shared from that first night on.

"You don't miss the beach house?" Maurice asked as Jay drove swiftly and confidently over the uncrowded highway out of the city.

"We'll buy another," Jay said with a shrug. "If you want. We can afford it with what we'll make from the old place. I don't particularly want to share a house with a group any more, anyway. The parties, the scene: It's a young man's game."

"Donovan and you were in it from the time you came out," Maurice said.

"Yeah. Go figure what the chances were: Two small town boys, both gay, both kinky. Best friends." Both Tops, too, or we would have done more than just fool around together, Jay thought. "My father believed I'd corrupted Donovan," Jay said with a harsh sigh. Even twenty years later, the memory hurt. "He loved Donovan, you know. Donovan was the son he would have chosen."

"Your father wasn't a happy man," Maurice murmured. "It wasn't your fault, Jay, you didn't have an obligation to make him happy."

"Yeah, well, my mother..." Jay's voice was bitter. "Cold. He could have withstood anything but that."

"Most of us can." Maurice sighed.

"Speaking of which, Maurie, what did you send your mother and her husband this year?"

"Their annual holiday fruit basket." Maurice scowled at the dark look Jay gave him. "Keep your eyes on the road."

"Let me worry about my driving," Jay said. "So how much did you spend this year?"

"You don't want to know," Maurice said comfortably. "An impressive amount, trust me. I'm a successful doctor, you know."

"So you admit you like twisting the knife a little?" Jay asked.

"I never denied it," Maurice said waspishly. "The satisfaction it gives me would be cheap at twice the price."

"I could tell you not to do it," Jay said, checking Maurice's profile quickly. Maurice's serene expression reassured him.

"You could," Maurice acknowledged. "However you of all people can appreciate that a little spite adds savor to this saccharine season." His tone turned serious. "It's an old issue, Jay, and revisiting it does no one any good. Let's talk about something more interesting."

"Find us something good to listen to," Jay commanded. Maurice searched his wallet of CDs for his current favorite and popped it in and they drove on amid the pleasantly somber strains of medieval Catalonian Christmas music. Jay indulged Maurice's esoteric musical tastes with resigned respect.

They took the old post road that branched off the main highway toward the coast side inn. The oceanfront was starkly beautiful in winter. Even though it was midweek, the inn was doing a brisk midday business. Jay and Maurice sat in the Old World styled dining room, with its window overlooking the empty beach beyond, enjoying the flickering of the real wood fire in the brick fireplace, appreciating the contrast between the ice without and the warmth within.

"Jay? Would you want to buy or build, if we got something else out here?" Maurice asked.

"I don't know," Jay said. "I'm not convinced we need a third place, Maurie."

"I don't think we do," Maurice said. "Unless you're talking investment. We barely have time for the house."

"Someday," Jay said. Maurice's hand was resting by his plate; Jay took it, lacing their fingers together.

Maurice tensed. Neither man was generally demonstrative in public; even in this hospitable environment Jay's gesture was a surprise. Maurice drew a deep breath and let it out slowly, willing himself to relax. The important thing was to focus on the pleasure the gesture brought Jay, not on his own faint discomfort. They had been together a long time and there was no doubt in Maurice's mind that that was what Jay expected.

"We're entitled." Jay released Maurice's hand with a gentle rub of his palm over its back. With a slight shift of his eyes Jay summoned the waiter with the check and scrawled his signature and room number, adding it to his tab at the inn. They rose and made their way up the wood paneled stairwell to the second floor. They had had these rooms before; they faced the ocean and included a fireplace and a retrofitted bathroom with a deep tub as well as a spacious shower. Both Jay and Maurice liked their creature comforts.

"There's an element of luck in all of it," Jay said, looking out the window over the deserted beach.

"'It' being what?" Maurice asked, coming to stand beside Jay and leaning into him, sensitive to the hint of sadness in Jay's voice.

"All of it. Us. Together. Here." Jay shook off his philosophical mood. "Let's not waste it."

He turned and wrapped his arms around Maurice. "Bed."

"How romantic," Maurice said, rolling his eyes. "You really need to work on your seduction technique."

"Oh do I?" Jay asked, backing Maurice toward the bedstead and tumbling him onto the plush mattress. "I don't know, Maurie, you seem to be responding very well to my unorthodox style." He settled alongside Maurice, his forefinger tracing the outline of Maurice's fly, his palm warm against the swelling beneath.

And then for a space there were no more words.