John looks at the fine old house, here in this wild verdant wonderland. How came such a thing to be here? It looks like... the old houses of his beloved Georgia. Not one of the casually thrown up houses of the frontier, nor even the houses of the cities - maybe Denver, but he had never been allowed in those, the whole realm closed to him. He looks, stunned, incredulous, and turns to Gabriel with his wide open presenting arms and pleased grin. "And we... we can stay here? It is perfect. Oh, better than perfect! I pictured at best a grand hotel, or perhaps a small but clean hotel, so far out here, but this, oh... This!."
The air is so health-giving, redolent with oxygen - salt air, rich forest air, just as it had been at their little beach. In fact, John can hardly wait - can hardly wait to run up the steps, to see their new room, to make it theirs with their things and joy. To open, with his friend, the windows that will open wide from the small world of their room to all this beauty, and to breathe. To look out at the sea, in which they have now been immersed. To order a fine meal, to have a warm bath drawn, and then, oh then, to fall into a soft bed with Gabriel. The details of booking the room, arranging for the moving of his trunk, exchange of money and keys, recitations of amenities. Oh, he wants to run through it all.
The house rises white against the foliage, formed with so many architectural details of his childhood. White curtains move in the windows, clean with a sense of the lace his mama had favoured. He can nearly hear the piano - floating Chopin.
John turns to Gabriel, his face full of joy and anticipation. The peace and depth of their time at the ocean mingle with the soft excited wonder of their dancing, the feeling of his friend's face and lips and body. "Oh, Gabriel, it is just perfect. It will be so beautiful!" And, looking forward, in the rich air, in the breeze yet from the sea, he follows him up the steps, albeit a little slowly, for it is steep.
Gabriel smiles at John's reaction. He'd thought John might like the place, and it turns out he's right.
Up the stairs, then; Gabriel thinks how inviting this place will seem as night draws on, with warm squares of yellow light marking all the windows in the twilight. The porch is broad, with comfortable old chairs about and a fine railing circling it. The door, which is a model of Victorian craftsmanship with an inlaid glass window, has a little hand-written sign in it saying, Welcome! Come on in.
It seems a slow time of year, or possibly just day, for the bed and breakfast-- there are only two other cars parked before the house besides their own-- and when they enter the little foyer, causing the bell on to door to jingle slightly, a woman's voice calls out from down the hall, "Good afternoon!" The greeting is followed by a neat grey-haired head sticking through the door of what, presumably, is the office. Gabriel gives the woman a smile. "Hi, Elaine."
"Oh, have we spoken on the phone?" the woman asks with a absent-minded smile. "Come in, come in..."
In the small office, probably a cloakroom originally but converted to handling the business of the place with as little intrusion on the rest of the house as possible, Elaine scuttles behind a desk and piles of paperwork. "Alright, were you checking in then? Did you make a reservation?"
"Yes, please, and not as such," Gabriel says, still smiling, scootching further into the room to make space for John.
"Oh. Well, luckily we're not very busy, there's just two of the rooms filled right now," Elaine murmurs, flipping through papers on her desk. She slides one over to them. "Here's the available rooms, then. And how long do the two of you think you'll be staying with us?" she asks, looking up from her desk to look at them both from behind her glasses. If the couple before her-- John in his clothing from the last century, with Gabriel's big black coat draped over, and Gabriel with his more casual clothing and still-damp hair hanging around his face-- cause her to miss a beat at all, no trace of it shows on her face.
John has removed his hat as he entered, remembering his manners in this fine old house which demands them, as likely does its proprietor. He too is still somewhat damp, though the day is dry, but the coat, much too large, still enfolds him. He smiles warmly - very warmly, with his general happiness. "I believe we should like to register for one night, for now, though it might possibly come to be two," John answers the lady's question,then bows politely. "Dr. John Holliday, dentist, at your service, Ma'am. And may I compliment you on your lovely establishment? I am surely most intrigued to find such a lovely home, that brings to mind earlier times, in such a seemingly remote, though beautiful locale."
He moves close to Gabriel as he takes the sheet with the pictures of the rooms, describing their attributes and looks with him, as he points to the most well-appointed one, with an elabourate balcony. "Might I ask, please, has this a view of the sea?"
Elaine assures them it is indeed free and has a room of the sea. A balcony and a bath, a fireplace and fine appointments, well-furnished in old dark wood. She asks for a credit card, and John pulls out his money clip that had caused such trouble at the beach. "I should be happy to pay for the room, and to leave a deposit for incidentals as needed, Ma'am."
Her expression changes to keen and interested surprise at the sight of the notes. "Why, Doctor! Do you know how much those notes are worth?"
"Ten, twenty and fifty dollars, Ma'am. You see, carrying silver..." He begins again, bewildered by the question in a lady. But she waves his explanation aside.
"You are not a numismatist? A collector of coins, or paper money? These are worth... many times the amount printed on them! However did you come upon them?"
"Why I earned them in Colorado, Ma'am." John blushes. They will never be allowed to stay here now, but he is truthful. "While it is true I am a dentist, I am also a sporting man." He sighs deeply, almost ready to turn to go, looking in sorrowful apology at Gabriel. But Elaine does not seem dismayed at all.
"If you would trust me enough to leave them with me, I could have them evaluated. I would be happy - more than happy - to take them as their value would allow, Doctor." She believes she is humouring him with the title.
"Ma'am, if you would take them at printed value, I would be most gratified. I surely won them at value. And perhaps, if you could give us a contact in San Francisco, should you know of one? I do apologise, but... they are my living, and I cannot leave them, beyond the cost needed. And deposit..."
"But they are worth..."
"Please, Ma'am. Please. Please." His expression is sincere and determined, with still a little bewildered panic.
"Very well. And you will be welcome, then, to anything I can provide, any extras, at no extra charge. And I will take the added value as deposit." She frowns at him in mock sternness also. "Deposit. To be returned if unused. I would not defraud you, any more than you would seem to wish to defraud me! Now. Here are your keys, and my husband will bring up your bags. Let me show you the suite." She hands the keys to Gabriel, clearly the sane one, even with his wet puffing hair, and pats him kindly on the arm with a look of sympathy.
"Well, I do thank you kindly, Ma'am." John is now surprised and pleased, as well as relieved, his warmth returned with the confusion resolved. And he moves close to Gabriel again to say softly, as he takes his hand, "I'm sorry. I still don't know, but I am sorry. It will be alright. It will be beautiful."
John is full of feeling, and now full of deep attention to Gabriel's breathed thoughts too. His heart is so full. A dark high truth. Oh, Gabriel, Love. He'd spoken the endearment, and repeats it. Not denial, not comfort, but perhaps company, and intensified by his body, his closer than ever presence. To give myself, to give you yourself. His friend's hands at his hips, and something settles in him suddenly, hot and deep. Ohhh.
And he is glad, his precious stickpin in Gabriel's fingers. That is part of me, almost. The thing I most cherish, even now. Rich silk brushes his chin, and he looks back into Gabriel's eyes, curious, the contact of that too is a touch, a recognition. And with that, the fingers search his own face, remembering, learning. His moustache is softly stroked, and his sensitive mouth twitches. Touch my lip, Gabriel, feel carefully the scar in my mouth. A guiding star - your first touch there made so much of me. John is still, becoming familiar, becoming real for Gabriel - the planes and lines of pain, of quietness, the small muscles of smile moving at his happiness.
It had been simple happiness, but now, richer again, with the hint in his friend of the implacable infinite truth. Oh, Gabriel. How it... makes me want you... more. And he repeats his words at the club, softly. "To know you, to be known. To feel you, to be felt. Gabriel, I feel so much. Things are precious because... they let you feel." His breath deepens and he closes his eyes at that thought too, enjoying the fingers coming to know him. He puts his hands to Gabriel's own hips, moving them over the leather, feeling the large strong bones beneath it.
Gabriel nods wordlessly, his fingers still busied with the intricacies of John's skin, palms on his jaw and thumbs brushing his cheekbones. His fingers fan out, some sliding into John's hair with its streaks of gray, but his index fingers stroking over the fine deep traceries of crow's feet at the corners of John's eyes, worn in there by the years of sun and wind and desert.
It is like dancing in its own right, this. John's hands on his hips make him want to seek out a rhythm, a cadence tied in somewhere to the steady quick beats of their hearts-- a music that can encompass both this slow, careful-building warmth and the flashes of heat lightning that spiral along his nerves when John's fingers touch just so, or just there.
His fingers trail lower, from cheek to jaw to throat, smoothing over tendons and arteries and soft skin, until they reach John's collar and can begin with the buttons there. Gabriel's eyes are still fixed on John's face; he leans in. Tongue sliding from half-parted lips to touch John's own, only a touch, the tip of his tongue following the curve of John's mouth, lingering at the center, the site of the old scar.
And John tastes-- no. John tastes of this or that but really, really what John tastes of is John.
A moment of this then Gabriel smiles wryly, whispers against John's mouth, "We're supposed to be getting ready for the bath, aren't we."
John draws his thumbs up into the hollow below Gabriel's iliac ridge, smoothing the leather there, where it had been held above his skin, pressing a little. Smooth bone abruptly giving away to muscles whose connective tissue lay deep inside him. The little sheltered hollow. Oh, the distance now between them, so tantalising, as he has backed a fraction to allow the hands to move over his face. Creating him, moulding him, the little things noted and brought to his attention to which he does not think to see in himself.
A little higher, he curls his fingers into his waistband a quick second, under the thick leather. And so gently but surely, feeling humble, he lays the palm of his other hand against his friend's warm vulnerable stomach, over his belly button. His fingers cooler, for once, the afternoon fever forestalled by Gabriel's coat, he feels for every subtle shade of surface tension there, nuance of temperature, the muscle underlying the gently radiating skin. He spreads his fingers and moves his hand there with a slight wave-like pressure, passing from his palm to his fingertips and back.
But then, oh, the tongue against his mouth, tasting. Ah yes, the scar... Ahhhh. His lips part and a gentle sigh. The soft moistness, delicate with just the tip of his tongue, ohhh, electric, that first surprising contact. And the whisper, against his lips. Oh, to listen to the quiet words, feel them there moving, actually feel Gabriel's amusement, so much a part of him.
"Yes," John whispers, "Yes." He still wants to wash Gabriel's hair, to stroke and explore it, pay it such close attention, nourish it, massage his scalp and head... perhaps... perhaps to wash his dear body too, he thinks now, slipping over all its curves and angles, the so-tactile skin, smoothing it in soap and water... But the soft lips moving against his are here, not merely soon, and he presses his own back against them.
And now, so close again, he draws Gabriel to him, his hand at the small of his back, arching it towards him, and feeling, as it had seemed to affect him before, his shoulder blades with his other palm, searching with gentle pressure for the slight signs of pleasure in his body.
And I will tell you, Gabriel, that you are human.
The word has changed so, for him. Once it was insult, slur. He can remember what he said to Danyael, and Danyael's response.
You chose them. I want it back the way it was. You want them?
I'd rather be one of them.
How it had all been turned upside down. How fifteen years in a 'monkey-skin-suit' had changed everything. And he's not blind to the irony of it, God's sense of full-circle humor-- that after he had killed Danyael for saying it, he should have had it inflicted upon him. (To begin with, inflicted. And then it had become 'bestowed,' as it ceased to seem quite such a punishment and more a mixed gift, filled with unlooked-for blessings-- new joys, and the old ones more keenly felt...)
And that now, he should want it, want to feel... human, if only for a space of time. To want his heart to drum fast in his chest, want heat to flare in from his skin to deep in his bones, want the heady sweet intoxication and the need that he once likened to dying.
Yeah, he's pretty sure his Boss gets a chuckle out of it all.
Not that the ramifications of the Divine's sense of humor are really that immediate, right now. John is; John is immediate and beatingpulse and breathbreathbreath against skin. John is beautiful, and human here with him (for him)... John is kissing him, touching him...
Fingers, and tongue, and teeth. Gabriel sighs softly, eyelids fluttering, at the touches. His own hands dance over John's upper arms, shoulders, spine, as if they cannot be content with only one place to touch, before they settle again in John's hair, stroking through it. Gabriel's soft sighs deepen, becoming a moan when John's wet, warm mouth closes on sensitive nipple. When John adds his teeth as well Gabriel's breath hitches, and he presses his head back against the carpet a bit, his back arching slightly, body rising to John's clever tongue as if summoned.
Their lower bodies are still pressed together and the motion of his spine creates pleasant friction, bellies and cocks against each other. Gabriel lets out a soft "Ah" at that, his fingers tightening for the briefest second in John's hair before returning to their slow strokes. Heat beginning to build, lazy and sure with each motion of John's mouth and fingers, and Gabriel closes his eyes in pleasure, feeling the warmth race through his body down into his belly, the base of his spine, the two slow throbs between his legs.
His friend's hands move over John, caressing him, touching him, confirming him, giving him presence. The contact, so fully given, rises and collects in his own head, letting him want even more of this simplicity, giving him humanity. A hand on his buttocks and he moves back to meet it. Touch me. The hand in his hair is cradling his head, letting it feel soft. He wants to curl up under it, to rest his head on his friend's chest, and breathe under the gentle intricate strokes.
And Gabriel's back arches under him, as he enjoys his nipple. Oh, he likes that! The extension of his friend's large muscles, John's small attentions drawing Gabriel's body taut. He straightens his legs, kneeling back between his thighs, regretting already the loss of the warm solid form between his own. He places the palm of his hand beneath Gabriel's back, feeling, pressing gently, lifting him further against him as his tongue pleases him. He smiles and curls his lips over his teeth to brush the neat ends of his moustache over the now-damp skin, over the sweet nipple that had moved his friend's body so exquisitely. He kisses it again, his tongue licking it fondly. And he walks his lips then, softly moist, down the centre line of his stomach, tickling the fine light hairs as they begin to thicken there.
John loves Gabriel's stomach. It looks so very sensitive. Inviting, daring his touch. Its surface is still warm from his own against it. Oh, so... vulnerable. He knows Gabriel is not, but the open stomach with its thin skin, the stretch of that over his large bones... He reaches Gabriel's belly button again, nestled in the soft smooth muscles of his belly. John presses his nose to it, explores the little divot with the tip of his tongue. It makes him happy that Gabriel has this little artefact of birth. Perhaps if he attends it, he will make it an artefact of humanity for him. John's own is tight, connects somewhere deep within him, so he puts his finger in Gabriel's and moves it smoothly - not with downward pressure, not sinking into it, but a rotational massage, slow and heavy if not deep. It is something that always moves him strangely, purely physically, internally, and he looks up to Gabriel's face for signs of a similar sensation, his cheek on his warm stomach.
And he reaches down, deep between his friend's legs with his other hand. He intends to draw it forward, over his tight little opening there, his perineum, over his scrotum to his cock. But his wrist is suddenly slippery smoothly moist, and then his fingers. And he finds the hidden deep opening there, enfolded delicate and full, in heat and moisture - so soft. So soft, so soft, so soft. And his breath gasps in enchanted wonder against Gabriel's stomach. He lifts his head to look into his eyes, and his laugh breaks pure and silver with delight. And Ohhhhhhh. So soft. He wants to sing the simple words.
Soft throaty purrs escape Gabriel's lips at each brush of John's lips and tongue, the almost-tickle of his moustache, the warmth of John's palm and strong fingers against his spine. Ummm. Makes him... want to do contradictory things at the same time-- makes him want to lie here and melt under John's touches, his hot mouth, but also to do these things to John, trace nails and lips over all his skin. Makes Gabriel want to never leave this skin, and also makes him wish to be translated into tongues of fire that can flicker over the horizon in abandon. Makes him want so much, and the noises he makes, the moans and half-whimpers and soft pleased growls, are for that too, for John simply making him feel. Oh, lovely John.
As John's head moves slowly lower, Gabriel lets his fingers spread out on John's shoulders, palms memorizing the shape and form of them, fingers digging gently into John's shoulder blades and the lean muscles. More sensation when John finds his belly button (Gabriel's always wondered just why he has that little signifier of a human birth. It's never made any sense in the past; perhaps, he thinks, he was created with it so that here and now at this time and place John could explore it just so--); Gabriel's chest rumbles with a low hum.
And then John's hand is between his legs. "Ah," Gabriel says again, the sound both shakier and more drawn-out then before, as John's fingers brush against him, slide against already-slick lips. Almost sweeter for the unintentionalness of it, for John's surprise, evidenced in the breathy laughter against his belly, the look John gives him. Gabriel half-laughs in answer, a quiet chuckle, fingers stroking John's neck and hair.
"Oh, yeah. Should I maybe have mentioned that?" he asks through a smile. Another chuckle, letting his head drop back down to the carpet, his eyelids fluttering with the sensations that touch him from all directions, like waves lapping a boat. The room's slightly-cool air against his skin, the delicious heat of John's body and fingers, the carpet, the soft silk of John's hair between his fingers, John's scalp beneath his palm. He makes a low sound in his throat, mingled contentment and desire.
"Oh, John. John, that feels... so good... you feel so good..." he breathes, legs spreading easily for John, body shifting on the carpet to get closer to John's fingers, to John himself.
Gabriel's hair. John has seen it glinting, the white hairs caught in outlined silver. He has seen it infused with sunlight like a halo. Or perhaps it really was a halo. He has tasted it full of salt, and watched it poof out like a dandelion. He's smoothed it from his face, damp with both their tears. Watched it moved gently by the breeze, and blow behind his head like a banner as he'd blown his trumpet. Rested his cheek against it, let it lie spread against his shoulder. Stroked it for its beautiful feel of silk strands. He's smelled Gabriel's own deep scent there, his nose curious and enchanted, exploring by his ear. So soft, so fascinating, so detailed. Gabriel's hair.
Wet smooth arms around him and he leans forward readily and happily into the clean embrace, gliding against his friend in the slippery water. And he puts his arms about him too, and hugs him up close, grinning, delighted with everything. He tips soap from a dish belonging to the guest house and scoops warm water up in it to pour over Gabriel's head. He puts his friend's hair behind his ears again, and kisses him, soft lips on soft lips briefly. Oh, he has been looking forward to this.
And he takes the shampoo he's selected - a healthy-sounding fruit-based concoction and pours far too much into his hands again. Gradually, he smooths it into and over his friend's hair and head. He spreads it there thick and gathers the long hair in his hand, squeezing shampoo into it and through it with his wiry hands. All the way from the base of his head to the ends. He likes this, feeling Gabriel's strong legs beneath him, reaching over his shoulders, his crinkled eyes and smile, just... here, so close. There is a lot of shampoo left, though it is thick through his hair like gelatin. John tastes it, it smells so good. Soap and fruit. It is delicious. He smooths it more thinly over Gabriel's chest while he is about it, his shoulders and collarbone, his pectoral muscles and little nipples, slipping his hands through the little caves behind his tendons and under his arms. A little shampoo there too, to wash this gentlemanly hair. Oh, how wonderful to touch him. He will never ever tire of it.
He rests his hands on his shoulders and begins to massage the shampoo into his scalp - all over it in little pressed rotations, his fingers soft and slow, but deeply outlining all the little changes in his bones. He starts at the base of his skull, and moves upward in the his hair. Afterwards, later, perhaps he will brush it for him. He pushes his fingers into his hair, palms up, and closes his fingers around it, squeezing and smoothly pulling it as his knuckles move against Gabriel's scalp - another kind of massage.
Alright, he can't resist. So close, and he bends and licks the delicious soap in just one broad stripe from Gabriel's chest, his tongue broad and soft, over his muscled ribs and one of his sweet rounded nipples. He looks up into his eyes with a quiet satisfied laugh.
Gabriel purrs throatily in contentment, eyes fluttering shut at the strong fingers in his hair, the indulgent feeling of it all. The bottle and cloth are still in his own hands and he applies the gel to the cloth somewhat lazily, allowing himself to be distracted by water, by John's closeness, his kiss, his touches... still, he does manage to get the washcloth suitably sudsy after a bit, recaps the bottle and sets it back on the edge. Then he can drag the wet soapy cloth over John's chest and sides and hips and belly, fingers trailing over his skin under the water. Everything is slick and slippery, easy and blissfully warm. Water lapping about them like another set of hands.
The mischievous lick to his chest makes his hum deepen into a moan for a moment, his eyes widening and seeking out John's. He snorts at John's laugh and abruptly pulls him close for a kiss, his tongue tasting the soap on John's lips, their slippery bodies making little wet noises against each other.
"Trying to distract me, are you?" Gabriel says, his lips twitching, when he pulls back from the kiss, arms loosening and dropping back down to John's waist. "Tch. Just for that--" His free hand finds the dish John dumped water on him with, and does the same to his friend, pouring the hot water atop his head and washing away the remnants of John's bubble hat.
All good things come to an end-- of course, in this case, so that other good things may commence-- and they rinse off quickly, Gabriel making a mental note to spend more time introducing John to the delight of the shower at a later date. The towels are so wonderfully soft and thick and absorbent, the sort one simply wants to bundle one's self into. Gabriel enjoys the drying-off, and then they're moving across the carpet towards the bed-- not quite such a great distance as it had appeared from within the tub.
This time Gabriel pulls back the quilts and bedspreads and sheets, thinking of how lovely it will be to pull those over them, the smooth sheets against their bodies and the warmth of the covers on top as well. He sits down on the bed then and merely looks at John a moment, gaze serenely taking him in once again, from still-slightly-damp hair down to his toes-- not to mention the bottle John's had the foresight to grab. Ah, John seems renewed by the day, pale skin almost glowing a bit with the room's soft sunlight and the aftereffects of the bath. Gabriel smiles slowly at that, at John, pleased to see the warmth in him.
He raises his hands slightly towards John, unspoken invitation. Come here to me, beloved.
John pauses a moment to look at Gabriel also. His long hair soft and drying, the grey sparkling. His slim strong body, so perfect. The open hands and arms. For me. And his smile, his happy eyes.
Then he goes to him, beloved. He comes close to be held in the warm arms with their sensitive inner skin, to be held in the warms legs. And he holds Gabriel close to him, up against his warm chest, his lips warm to his forehead. Skin to skin, soaked and softened in the wonderfully scented bath, made more sensitive still, its surface towel-rubbed and clean.
But John yearns for the slow growing touch they had in the bath. He leans the little bottle at Gabriel's leg on the bed, and takes his friend's face in his hands. Strokes his hair softly with a big quiet smile. He still feels where Gabriel's fingers have moved inside him, the small area still hotly intense. "I want more, love. Touch me more?" Thinking further, he takes the bottle up again, pours a little over his fingers to touch Gabriel more. Touch you more, Darling? And he does, strong gentle fingers underneath him, feeling again, the softness, his dear cock. Even in air, his touch so easy and frictionless, so smooth and delicate. His curious fingers giving feeling without pulling or rubbing the beautiful surfaces and folds. He loses himself there a moment, feeling the silkiness and giving little feelings to his beloved.
Back on the highway, and the air that rushes around them now is cooler as the sun makes it way down towards the horizon. Gabriel smiles into the wind that whips its hair back from his face, breathing deeply of the scents it brings him from all over-- the rich scent of the Monterey pines and the ferns, and beyond that the sea, and the smells from places farther out, borne hundreds of miles by the ocean breezes. It's been a good day. Nor is it over yet.
The bag of groceries they picked up after leaving the bed and breakfast is on the passenger seat next to the door, buckled in with its own belt. John's in between the bag and Gabriel, and Gabriel's lips twitch with amusement and contentment as he scans the road ahead for the turn-off they had discovered earlier.
"I'm trying to think if we forgot anything," he says to John. "We got the chocolate, the marshmallows, graham crackers, the marshmallow-fork things they way overcharged us for, the hot dog buns, the hot dogs, mayo, relish-- did we get mustard?"
"We got two kinds! And pickles as well!" John reaches into the bag to make sure. "There was this one from France, with mustard seeds, I think, and this one that says it is raspberry flavoured. I don't mind so much about the fork-things, this once. The food, especially these... marshmallows... seems so unusual. I've never had anything like them. And those sausages - the meat seems to be ground so very finely. It will be delicious, I just know it!"
The air smells wonderful to him too. He smells the ocean and flowers - green and warm. He slips his other hand onto Gabriel's lap. The sun glints gold into Gabriel's flying hair. He is beautiful and when he smiles, John cannot wait to get to the little beach.
He starts to sing the song from the afternoon radio - he can learn music quickly, and he had been listening very closely, wanting very much even then to hold hands, wanting to kiss.
"Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words hold my hand
In other words darling kiss me
Fill my life with song
And let me sing forever more
You are all I hope for
All I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love you"
He leans against Gabriel's shoulder. The blanket is wrapped around him, warm too, snugging him against the wind. "I am so happy. Sing with me, Gabriel, as you played your trumpet before?"