Sterling's long-coveted show of Argentinean painter Ana Denacios's new work arrived by truck from the airport. Loren helped the driver and Sterling transfer the crated canvases from the truck's padded interior to the gallery's central display space, his movements cautious and economical as always. He pried the wooden flats apart and cleared the debris from the room. He then unwrapped the large canvases gleaming with fresh varnish and leaned them against the immaculate white walls. As was his wont, Loren studied them carefully. The main theme was a vertiginous series of staircases with figures falling down them.

"Loren?" Sterling had seen Loren lost in concentration before, but this intent scrutiny went beyond that. Loren seemed lost entirely. "Loren?" Sterling repeated Loren's name twice more before Loren responded by looking at him blankly, his gray eyes scanning Sterling's face as if he had no idea who he was. He blanched as Sterling reached for his arm.

Sterling tactfully withdrew his hand. "Will you come with me, please," Sterling suggested quietly. He carefully shepherded Loren into his office. Shown to a chair, Loren sat obediently. Sterling took in his clammy skin and empty eyes.

"I'll be right back." He went to the shipping room, took a coke from the small refrigerator and returned to his office. Loren hadn't moved. Sterling opened the soda and offered it to Loren. "Take a sip, Loren, it will help," Sterling urged.

Loren nodded obediently and took a swallow. Sterling leaned back in his chair, deliberately disguising his own anxiety. Gradually Loren seemed to come back from wherever he'd been. A tinge of pink returned to his face.

"Oh shit." Loren inhaled deeply and blew out his breath, hard. "Shit, I can't believe I...I'm all right now. Oh shit. I'm sorry, I didn't mean...shit."

"Loren." Sterling motioned to Loren to stop. "You've nothing to apologize for." Loren had responded intuitively to the disorientation the paintings' skewed perspective induced. It didn't take much of an imaginative leap to understand why they had upset him so badly. "It's harsh and brilliant work. Ana was one of the children of the disappeared in Argentina whose adoptive parents were relatives of the generals. Her work is a meditation on memory and loss: 'Lacunae.'"

"Lack what?" Loren repeated, stumbling over the unfamiliar word.

"Lacunae: spaces, gaps, openings." Sterling tactfully supplied the definition. "Things come through them, feelings and emotions, that the viewer doesn't necessarily understand. That's Ana's intent in these paintings."

"The way they make me feel..." Loren had no word for it, but his dismal tone made clear what he thought of the paintings and his reaction to them.

"They're meant to make people uncomfortable," Sterling acknowledged.

"Yeah, well, they do that." Loren thought wistfully of bolting for home.

"Do you feel well enough to start putting them up?" Sterling moved his hand in a broad arc toward the paintings. Loren flinched as if he expected to be hit.

Sterling arrested his gesture in mid air. He massaged his temples. "I want you to call Donovan, Loren." He stepped toward Loren, stopping as Loren made a small, frightened sound.

"Oh my." Sterling recognized that he was out of his depth. "Loren, call Donovan, please," Sterling coaxed. "Tell him you're not well."

Loren did as he was told. Donovan was in his studio.

"You're going to be all right," Donovan said, draping a damp cloth over his clay and moving to the sink as he spoke. "Hang on, Loren, I'll be right there."

"Loren's in my office." Sterling met Donovan at the gallery's front desk. "He was lost as soon as he saw them," he said, indicating the paintings arrayed about the gallery floor, leaning against the walls. "Ana Denacios. 'Lacunae.'"

"Argentina and the generals," Donovan said, placing the name. "What a story."

"Political violence, domestic violence," Sterling said sadly as he trailed Donovan to the office. "Does it matter to a brutalized child who victimized him?" Donovan knew it was a rhetorical question.

"Donovan." Loren took an audible breath, rose and came tentatively to Donovan. "Oh shit, I can't believe I did that. Oh shit."

"All right, Loren, it's all right." Donovan wrapped his arms around Loren, his voice warm and reassuring. He could feel Loren's pounding heart. "You didn't do anything wrong."

"You really didn't, Loren," Sterling said gently. He accepted that it was all of one piece, Loren's hypersensitivity and Loren's talent. Sterling didn't find it strange; there were artists who were like that. If were lucky, they had lovers to help them deal with their pain. Loren clearly couldn't handle all of his alone; Sterling was glad that Donovan was there for him.

"I'm going to take him home, Sterling," Donovan said.

"I can get someone else in to hang the show, if it comes to that," Sterling said. "Not that I wouldn't prefer your help, Loren. However the important thing, the most important thing, is that you feel better. Everything else is details."

Loren nodded mutely.

"Thank you, Sterling," Donovan said sincerely.

"Just let me know," Sterling said. "Feel better, Loren."

"Donovan?" Loren leaned into him as they walked. "Sterling was nice?"

"He was, Loren." Donovan heard the bewilderment in Loren's voice. "You didn't do anything wrong. People are supposed to be nice when you're not well."

"No one but you ever was before," Loren pointed out with impeccable logic.

Once shepherded home, Loren gathered chips and soda, flopped on the floor, clicked on the television and sank gratefully into the familiar blur.

Donovan tried several times to talk with Loren about what had happened, but when he got no response but blank-eyed silence, left Loren in peace with his favorite anodyne and turned to his own source of comfort, his familiar pots and pans. He stewed chicken and steamed dumplings for a simple dinner he knew Loren would be able to eat no matter how fickle his appetite.

Loren gradually seemed to reconnect with the world around him. He laid the table for dinner and ate when Donovan prompted him. Still, conversation was beyond him and he was very glad when Donovan gave up and declared that it was bedtime. He washed up and curled into his pillows, wanting only sleep.

Donovan kissed him a chaste and gentle good night, understanding Loren's silent message. He wasn't surprised when, relieved from any pressure to respond amorously, Loren turned over and snuggled into his chest. Donovan finger-combed Loren's hair back from his face and watched as he fell asleep. He didn't stay asleep for long.

"It's all right, Loren, you're dreaming." Donovan reached for the old fashioned lamp on his night table and pulled the chain. Sitting up, Donovan put his arm around Loren and tucked him closer. "Awake now?"

"Yeah," Loren said hoarsely. He didn't remember screaming, but his raw throat told him that he had. "I'm sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry about." They sat in the puddle of light as Donovan rubbed Loren's back and waited for his breathing to steady. "That must have been quite some dream. You want to tell me about it?"

Loren shrugged.

"Maybe in the morning, then." Donovan turned off the light and lay back down, bringing Loren with him. Loren turned his face into Donovan's chest, burrowing into him. Donovan snugged the covers over both of them. "It's all right. I've got you. Nothing's going to harm you, it was only a dream. Shh, shh, shh..."

The next morning at breakfast, Loren had dark smudges under his eyes, as if he hadn't really slept at all. "I'm not going over to the gallery," Loren said petulantly, looking warily at Donovan.

"All right," Donovan said easily. "Then go back to bed for a bit, Loren." He walked Loren to the bedroom and turned back the sheet and blanket. "Come on, let's get you settled in. Want to tell me what that dream was about, Loren?"

"Just something that happened a long time ago. It doesn't matter, Donovan." Loren's voice was flat and dismissive. He got into bed, his back to Donovan.

"It matters to me, Loren. You matter to me." Donovan shook his head at Loren's pretense of coolness. "Come on, move over, I've got awhile." He lay down behind Loren, spooning him close, and pulled the covers over both of them. "Tell me about it," Donovan said, interested as always in filling in the blanks in Loren's history.

Loren had dreamed of one of the places he'd hated most. He shivered, remembering how many things there had been to do wrong in that home. "There's nothing to tell, Donovan. I ran away, that's all. Leave me alone!" He jerked away from Donovan, turning over to glare at him.

"Easy." Donovan's hands as he coaxed Loren closer again were gentle. "Easy now. It's all right, Loren."

"They hurt me, you know. I was crying and I fell down the stairs and they left me in the dark."

"Jesus," Donovan whispered, aware that his mingled sorrow and anger would confuse Loren and trying very hard to contain his anguish. "Didn't anyone help you, Loren?"

"Help me?" Loren shrugged. "I told you before, Donovan, no one gives a shit about a punk kid in care."

"Oh Loren." Donovan wrapped his arms around Loren, wishing he could go back in time. "I wish I'd been there for you."

"Whatever." Loren swallowed hard. "It's those fucking paintings, they make me remember things. I look at them and I'm falling again and I can't breathe and I'm afraid and no one cares. I'm not crazy, Donovan!"

"You're not crazy," Donovan said firmly. He drew Loren even closer, stroking Loren's hair, cuddling him, letting Loren feel his presence.

"Are you mad at me?" Loren felt obscurely embarrassed.

"No, Loren, I'm not angry," Donovan said, wishing for the thousandth time that Loren could distinguish between anger and sorrow. "You didn't do anything wrong."

Loren began to cry. "I'm sorry! I don't know what..."

"Maybe you identify with Ana," Donovan suggested. "Maybe you feel sorry for her."

"I don't feel sorry for her," Loren said bitterly. "I know she suffered, I know I should feel sorry for her, but I don't. I hate her for making me remember things I want to forget!" Loren tried to pull away, ashamed of his sordid history and appalled at what he'd just revealed. "Fuck you, Donovan, don't do this to me!"

Donovan wouldn't let go. "What exactly am I doing? I understand you find this very upsetting and I'm sorry it's so painful, but you do know I'm on your side, don't you?"

"Fuck you!" Loren struggled even harder to pull free. "Get off me!"

"Stop this right now or I'm going to spank you," Donovan said sharply, hoping his threat would be enough. To his relief, Loren responded by going limp in his arms. "Listen to me, Loren. What happened to Ana was terrible. What happened to you was no less terrible. It's not a competition. You were both hurt."

"It doesn't matter either way." Loren's voice was flat and hopeless. "I don't want to go back to the gallery, Donovan. I hate those paintings."

"Sterling really is counting on you to help him hang the show," Donovan said firmly. "I'll go over to the gallery with you if you like, you don't need to do this alone, but you really should do it."


Donovan knew every nuance of Loren's speech, he knew which were soft no's, easily negotiated, and which were heartfelt. This was most definitely the latter.

"Easy, Loren,--"

"I won't, Donovan, you can't fucking make me! NO!" Loren's agitation fed on itself.

"That's enough now." Donovan recognized Loren's spiraling fury for what it was, panic, and wrapped his arms around Loren, containing him. "It's all right, I've got you, shh, shh."

It was a familiar dance, and Loren's body knew the steps even as his mind spun out. This time he accepted Donovan's embrace and let Donovan coax him quieter.

"Sorry," Loren said sheepishly, a solid fifteen minutes later. "Oh God, Donovan, I'm so embarrassed."

"Don't be," Donovan said. "You did fine, Loren, you let me help you, you let yourself trust me, you did fine. There's no reason to be embarrassed."

"Hah," Loren said doubtfully.

"No reason at all," Donovan repeated certainly. "I'm not angry, I'm not upset, and you have nothing to be embarrassed about. It happens, Loren, but it happens a lot less than it used to, and that you can be proud of."

"Yeah." Loren closed his eyes. "I love you, Donovan."

"So do you think we can talk about this now?" Donovan asked gently.

"No!" Loren shook his head.

Donovan looked back at him without speaking.

"I'm sorry," Loren said softly. "We can talk, but I don't want to go back. Please don't make me, Donovan."

"What do you think Sterling will do for help if you don't, Loren?" Donovan wanted Loren to focus on Sterling's needs, rather than his own anxiety.

"He said he could get someone else," Loren said. "I can't do it, Donovan. Please, please don't make me."

"It's your call, Loren." Donovan felt Loren let his breath out and knew he had made the right decision. "It's going to be all right, Loren."

With a deep sigh, Loren accepted Donovan's reassurance and closed his eyes. He was tired, so very tired.

Donovan waited until Loren was asleep and then slipped away and called Sterling.

"Donovan. How's Loren?" Sterling asked. "I've been thinking about him nonstop, but I didn't want to bother you yesterday."

"He didn't sleep much last night and he's still spooked. I sent him back to bed for a nap. Sterling, will you really be okay hanging the show without him? You've got two days until the opening, right?"

"The timing is good, and yes, I'm fine, I can get someone else. Give Loren my best, and please tell him I hope to see him soon."

"You're very kind, Sterling. Thank you." Donovan hung up the phone, checked on Loren, who was sleeping quietly, and left for the college.

Loren dozed for another hour and then woke of his own accord. He puttered around the house, glad for its familiar comforts. It was midmorning when the phone rang.

"Pick up, Loren, I need to talk to you right now," Jay's disembodied voice ordered from the answering machine.

"I'm here." Loren responded to the imperious summons.

"About time. I need the place painted. How'd you like to earn some money?"

"You don't have to pay me," Loren said softly, hoping that was the right answer. "I'd be glad to do it."

"Good. It's white paint, there's not much to screw up," Jay said.

Loren winced.

"So you can start tomorrow?" Jay asked.

"I guess." Shit. Loren didn't think he could refuse Jay. Besides, it would give him an excuse to avoid the gallery for an indefinite period. "Yeah. Sure."

"Good. Be here at ten. Ciao."

"Bye." Loren shrugged. Whatever Jay might think, painting was something Loren knew he was good at. And it would mean that Donovan couldn't push him to go into the gallery again. All in all it wasn't a bad deal.

Meanwhile, Donovan had finished with his first class and was looking forward to having lunch with Maurice before teaching his second and final class of the day.

"Hey," Donovan said, placing his tray on the table and dropping into his seat. "What's up?"

"Just shoot me," Maurice said morosely. He poked at his baked fish, but didn't taste it.

"What's wrong, Maurice?" Donovan asked, concerned.

"Jay wants to repaint."

"Oh." Donovan had no words of comfort to offer. "Some sort of medical conference?" Donovan suggested half-heartedly. "In California?"

"Oh, and Jay's going to be fine with that," Maurice said sarcastically, stabbing his potatoes viciously. "Has he called you yet?"

Donovan put his fork down; suddenly he wasn't hungry either. "I won't do it this time, I swear. Let him hire someone, let him throw away a couple of thousand dollars on getting it done to his standards. I'm not going near it again."

"Good," Maurice said. "That will give me a good hook, too. I'll write a check for as much as it takes, anything not to have to be involved. The last time was the last time, you know?"

"For me too," Donovan said. "As a matter of fact, I think we were considering a blood oath to that effect, weren't we?"

"Sworn in Jay's blood," Maurice said. "If I remember right."

"Oh God." Donovan had a sudden flash of intuition. "I hope Jay didn't call the house and get Loren. He's home today; it's a long story."

"Does Loren know about Jay's paint fetish?" Maurice asked tentatively.

"No, and trust me, he's not going to find out," Donovan said grimly. "Why is it that the one thing Jay got from his mother is that tone of voice?"

"Is that where–" Maurice began, curious.

"Oh, yes. His father didn't have that imperious tone, but his mother did." Donovan smiled. "To the manor born. Jay may have hated it, but he learned it well enough. Shit, Maurice, I bet he has called. He probably–"

"–ordered Loren to pick up," Maurice said, his shoulders drooping. "I'm sorry, Donovan."

"You don't have anything to be sorry about, Maurice," Donovan said firmly. "It's Jay I'm going to kill. Give me a minute, okay?"

"Yeah, sure." Maurice watched as Donovan slid open his cell and pressed a number.

"Loren, it's me. Pick up–oh, hey Loren, how are you?"

Donovan rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. "And what did he–uh huh, and you said–" He listened for a moment. "No, I'm not mad at you, I'm just surprised. No, I know, you thought that was the right answer. Shh, Loren, I'm not mad at you. No, really. Loren, listen to me, I want you to really hear to what I'm telling you now: You didn't do anything wrong. It's all right. I'll see you a little later. Ciao." He put his phone away and shook his head.

"Jay asked him and he said yes," Maurice deduced. "And now you're stuck, because you don't want him to think he can't make a decision without asking you first. Jesus, Donovan, I really am sorry."

"It isn't your fault, Maurice," Donovan said, well aware that Maurice was embarrassed by Jay's action and very certain that Maurice didn't want to acknowledge that that was how he was feeling. "Jay is Jay, we know that. Let me talk to Loren and then I'll talk to Jay. You don't have to get involved in this, all right?"

"I'd be glad to pay someone to do it," Maurice said unhappily. "I really don't think it's right of Jay to expect either you or Loren to do this."

"He's an architect. All architects are obsessive-compulsive perfectionists when it comes to their own places," Donovan said comfortingly. "It's a well-known fact, Maurice. Trust me, Jay's in good company."

"Thanks, Donovan," Maurice said glumly. He didn't feel any better.

Loren was lying on the floor in front of the television when Donovan got home. Donovan stooped to kiss him hello. "You could have put a light on, Loren."

"I'm sorry!" Loren's reflexive yelp made Donovan wince.

"Shh, it's all right." Donovan stroked Loren's hair as Loren began to cry. "Everything's going to be all right."

"It's not," Loren said bitterly. "It's never going to be all right."

"It will be all right, I promise. I love you, Loren." Donovan said soberly. "Come on now, get up. Come to me." He tugged Loren from the floor to the couch and sat down beside him, letting his solid warmth ground and comfort Loren. Donovan didn't say anything more, but his body spoke for him, directly to Loren's body, and gradually Loren quieted.

"I'm sorry." Loren wiped his face with his forearm. "Shit, I'm a mess. I'm sorry, Donovan."

"It happens," Donovan said quietly, handing Loren the tissue box from beside him. "Just take it easy now, let yourself settle down. Don't think too much, don't try to talk just yet. Let yourself calm down, that's the best thing." He waited for Loren to dry his eyes.

"I don't know why I do this," Loren said. "It's so fucking stupid." Despite his harsh words, he stayed relaxed, as if his anger were purely rhetorical.

"You do it because it's safe to let go here," Donovan said. "And there's nothing wrong with that. It is safe, Loren, and at the deepest level you know that. That's a good thing."

"But I don't feel good, Donovan."

Donovan recognized the whine in Loren's voice. "Stomach hurts?" Donovan already knew the answer. "We can take care of that."

"Yeah." Loren leaned into Donovan for a moment, and then rose with a sigh and trudged toward the bedroom. He stripped off his jeans and underwear and positioned himself on the bed.

Meanwhile, Donovan gathered the enema essentials from the cabinet under the sink. He ran water into the bag, added a pre-measured packet of saline solution, and attached the hose and nozzle securely. He carried the enema out to the bedroom.

Loren was lying half-naked on the bed on his left side, his right leg bent at the knee. He didn't stir as Donovan tugged a wooden chair from beside the closet to the bedside and suspended the enema bag from its high back. Donovan sat down alongside Loren and caressed his exposed hip gently. "How do you feel?"

"It won't hurt?" Loren didn't sound concerned; it was more a vestigial question than a real one.

"I won't hurt you." Donovan reached to the night table for lube. Popping the top, he rubbed a bit between his fingers to warm it before applying it gently to Loren's opening and to the nozzle. "Ready, babe?"

At Loren's nod, he eased the nozzle into Loren. Loren had learned to relax into the penetration and it took almost no pressure. Donovan unclamped the tube and let the body-temperature solution begin to flow into Loren. He stroked Loren's hip and belly in soothing figure eights. "How's that feel?"

"It's fine," Loren said, well used to this ritual. He let the liquid solution fill his bowels as he concentrated on Donovan's reassuring massage. "How much more?"

"Nearly done," Donovan said. "There. Hold it a bit if you can." He rubbed Loren's belly in slow circles. "You tell me when."

"Now," Loren said, and Donovan eased the nozzle out. Loren rolled himself upright and headed to the bathroom. By the time he returned, Donovan had gathered up the enema equipment and wrapped it in a towel for later cleaning.

Loren sighed and yawned. "I'm so tired. Would you lie down with me, just for a little while, Donovan? I really don't want to be by myself."

"That's a good idea." Donovan smiled, pleased that Loren had asked so directly for what he needed. A less patient man would have been less encouraged. They stretched out side by side, hands clasped.

"About tomorrow," Donovan said. "You've never painted for Jay. I don't want you to do this if it's too hard on you. He's finicky as all hell, Loren."

"I've painted for Sterling and he's been satisfied," Loren pointed out with justifiable pride. The word perfectionist could have been coined to describe the gallery owner. "I'm very careful. I can paint, Donovan, I do it every month when we hang a new show."

"If you want to do it," Donovan said doubtfully, knowing what painting for Jay involved, "I suppose you can. It would certainly be a very nice thing for you to do." He didn't want to discourage Loren, especially since Loren's pride in his painting skills was something Donovan hadn't been aware of and which he didn't want to undercut. "But listen to me, Loren. If you change your mind, or if Jay gets to you, you tell me, all right? I've painted with Jay, Maurice has painted with Jay, and believe me, he's a bastard to work with."

"Jay's always nasty to me." Loren shrugged. "This can't be worse than it ever is."

Curiously that was true. The imperious tone that so irritated Maurice and Donovan was the only tone Loren associated with Jay. Jay's bossiness didn't bother Loren; it seemed to Loren that it was within Jay's rights to give orders. It was Jay's flashes of anger that scared Loren and without Maurice to protect from Loren's unwitting snubs, Jay found little to be angry at.

Loren was an extremely careful worker, his compulsive neatness a long standing habit, and he was temperamentally inclined to be particular about details in the same way Jay was. It made sense to him that Jay insisted on brushed and not rollered walls; Loren always noticed the difference between cut in edges and the slight orange skin effect of rollered paint himself, and it bothered him the same way it did Jay. It had been a happy revelation to Loren to learn from Sterling that that dissonance was not inevitable.

Jay watched, astonished, as Loren handled the broad wall brush smoothly and easily, and began to smile as he realized that he'd lucked out. Loren was good at this. As Jay relaxed, his voice grew warmer, and by noon he had backed off, letting Loren alone to work at his own speed. Loren was, in Jay's opinion, doing a spectacular job. He was never going to make do with Maurice and Donovan's slipshod help again, never mind deal with expensive professionals who required nursemaiding and sulked when told how to do things correctly.

Left to work in silence, Loren lost himself in his task. He found an easy rhythm and for the first time since he'd fallen into the well of Ana's pictures, he forgot the fractured images and the sharp shards of pain they called forth. He was surprised when Jay told him to clean up and go home.

"You're doing a beautiful job," Jay said. "Just keep going. Tell Donovan to give you my keys and let yourself in tomorrow. You don't need me."

"Yes, Jay." Loren hadn't expected praise. "Thank you?"

"Thank you," Jay said, emphasizing the second word. "I knew you had to be good for something." He saw Loren wince. "Loren. It's called a joke."

"Yes, Jay. I'm sorry." Loren made his escape. He walked the long way around the block from the subway to Donovan's house, not wanting to pass by the gallery, not wanting to risk a meeting with Sterling. At the moment he was less afraid of Jay than he was of another encounter with the memories of his own past.

Donovan was relieved to see the lights on when he pulled up in front of the house. It meant Loren was moving around, not lost in the Neverland of late afternoon sitcoms. He was even more pleased when Loren greeted him with a grin and a kiss. "Good day?"

"Yeah," Loren said, sounding surprised. "The walls are in great shape, Donovan. It's easy work."

"Easy?" Donovan looked stunned. "Jay's not driving you crazy?"

"No?" Loren wasn't sure why Donovan looked so surprised. "He mostly let me alone," Loren said.

"Okay," Donovan said dubiously. This was something he hadn't expected. Either Jay was developing a sensitive streak or there was more to this than met the eye. "Are you going back tomorrow?"

"Jay said to ask you for the keys," Loren said.

"Let me get this straight. Jay is going to let you paint without him being there?"

"Yes?" Loren didn't understand why Donovan was asking. "Are you mad at me, Donovan?"

"No, Loren, I'm not angry at all." Donovan realized that he was frightening Loren. "I'm very, very impressed, Loren, that's all. I've helped Jay paint for years, and he's never trusted me to work without him hanging over me. You must be doing a fabulous job, Loren."

"I paint for Sterling. No one is more particular than Sterling, not even Jay. I'm good at this, Donovan." Loren was happy. Jay had praised him and Donovan was pleased with him. Jay was going to leave him on his own tomorrow. It had been a surprisingly good day.

"I have something to show you, Donovan," Loren said softly, shoving three small drawings in his direction. "These are for you."


Donovan spread the drawings out on the table and looked at their cool gray surfaces in silence. There were no visible gaps in the careful pencil work, but it darkened at intervals, giving the illusion of bending and rippling paper. It was as if the carbon particles lacked even that flat, fragile support.

Not lacunae, Donovan thought, but the lack of any connective fabric at all. It struck Donovan as an apt metaphor for Loren's own experience.

"These are beautiful, Loren," Donovan said. "You have a rare gift." That it had survived intact despite everything that Loren had been deprived of seemed extraordinary.

Loren shrugged.

Understanding that his praise was making Loren uncomfortable, Donovan carefully set aside the drawings and began to make dinner. "Maurice is going to be a very happy man tonight, thanks to you."

"I could make you happy tonight." Loren batted his eyes, deliberately vamping.

Donovan laughed. "Be careful or I won't wait till after dinner," he said, watching Loren's face carefully to be sure that Loren got the joke. Loren easily misunderstood this sort of verbal play.

However, tonight Loren was feeling good enough that he responded with a giggle. He rubbed against Donovan, letting Donovan feel his excitement.

Donovan hooked an arm around him and kissed him thoroughly, hardening himself as Loren's mouth opened easily to his tongue. He hooked his finger in the neck of Loren's tee shirt, his palm warm against Loren's chest through the thin cloth, and Loren moaned, his head dropping back. Realizing that dinner was doomed, Donovan turned off the stove. "Let's go lie down and do this properly," he whispered.

Loren shivered as Donovan's lips brushed his ear. He clung to Donovan as Donovan propelled him to the bedroom. He couldn't shuck his clothing fast enough.

Donovan undressed slowly and deliberately, draping his shirt and pants over the chair, dropping his socks and underwear on the seat in a neat heap. He stood beside the bed for a moment, fully erect. Loren eyed him appreciatively.

Donovan tumbled Loren onto the bed and straddled him, rubbing the full length of his body against him as he kissed him. Loren moaned as Donovan's lips moved lower, from throat to chest to belly. Donovan's mouth closed over Loren's cock and Loren's hips left the bed as his back arched upward.

"God, Donovan, oh god that's good..."

Donovan's head bobbed over him, even as his hand cupped Loren's balls and his fingers massaged his sac gently.


"Please," Loren begged. "Please." Eyes closing, he gave himself up to the pleasure of sensation, his heart racing faster as Donovan found an easy rhythm and concentrated on bringing him off. "Yes, oh god yes, yes, yes..." He yelped as Donovan's tongue teased his sensitive head. "Enough!"

Laughing, Donovan wiped his mouth on the sheets and slid upward to kiss Loren. Loren protested half heartedly as Donovan's still sticky tongue explored his mouth, but Donovan was undeterred. Loren could feel the length of Donovan's rigid cock pressed between their two bodies. Reaching over to the night table, Loren grasped the lube and handed it to Donovan.

"Please..." Loren rolled onto his belly, pulling his legs under him, and Donovan slicked himself with lube and positioned his cock against Loren and pressed inside, his hands firm and certain on Loren's hips. Loren took the length of him eagerly, grinding back against Donovan and encouraging him deeper. Donovan thrust inside him with long, smooth strokes that made Loren sigh with pleasure.

"Love you, Loren, love you so much." Donovan's hips jerked as he came hard inside Loren. "Mine."

"I love you," Loren said, turning to Donovan as Donovan dropped down beside him. He snuggled into Donovan's chest, supremely contented. Donovan stroked him gently, appreciatively. Loren's back felt cool; Donovan snagged the covers and covered both of them. They lay together in contented silence, enjoying the warmth of each other's bodies.

Donovan was the first to stir. Sitting up, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and reached for his discarded clothing. "We still have to eat." He kissed Loren gently. "Come out when you're ready."

Loren got up more slowly, his body loose and easy, all tension gone. He got dressed and followed Donovan into the kitchen and sat quietly, watching Donovan cook. He reached for paper and pencil, ever present in this house, and began to sketch Donovan at the stove.