Relaxation and Rest

The scent of turpentine clung to Feuilly's clothes where they lay in a rumpled pile. He lounged on his stomach, sprawled across Combeferre's bed, receiving a massage and a litany of muscle groups. Feuilly was half-asleep and practically purring before Combeferre slipped into bed beside him and kissed his cheeks. "Dear friend." Feuilly had been worried all week about problems with his boss and trouble with a colleague. Combeferre reasoned it was only logical to invite him over, to have him tell over his troubles and try to relax for a time. It also allowed Combeferre to use his strong back as a study aid for myology, and that hurt no one. If it was a little odd to have one's friend half-naked in one's bed, Feuilly had not complained.

"Did you want me to go?" Feuilly asked, yawning.

"Not at all." Combeferre tugged him closer, smiling as Feuilly leaned into the touch. Leaving might allow him to remember his troubles and tense up again, and that would undo all the good Combeferre had done. "Stay the night?"


With a small sigh of relief, Combeferre smiled at him. Feuilly had been comfortable with the intimacy Combeferre had asked of him, and it was a great deal more than most men would countenance without question or protest. Perhaps it signified something in Feuilly's nature. Combeferre shivered at the thought and let his fingers trace the lines of Feuilly's stomach, hoping that if he took offense it might be explained away as a further step of the nominal reason for his visit. "Let me help you relax," he offered, as though he had not been doing that since Feuilly arrived.

But he accepted the foolish phrase and returned the gesture in kind, saying, "Only if you allow me to render the same assistance."

Combeferre gave him a beatific smile, letting his relief show plainly. "I can't refuse a guest's request."

Feuilly chuckled softly. "Can't you?"

"Not one as welcome as you are." Combeferre kissed him lightly, and Feuilly shifted in his arms, running a hand down his back. The touch made him shiver and chuckle. "Oh, that's lovely."

"Isn't it?" Feuilly grinned at him. "Funny, though."

"How do you mean?" Combeferre found nothing funny in the situation, although he was loath to admit it. In hopes of changing Feuilly's mind, he slid a hand into his waistband.

"I've been thinking that I've slept alone too long, and, well, here I am with company." Feuilly kissed his cheek and began unbuttoning his shirt, stroking his chest lightly between buttons.

"Ah. I see." Combeferre sighed in relief. He knew it was odd to invite a friend to take such liberties, but he was at least as lonely as Feuilly implied he himself had been. There were few women who were interested in him for any particular length of time, and fewer still who could hold what he considered an interesting conversation on anything like the number of topics that interested him. Feuilly, on the other hand, was well-read even though he was not well-off, and kissing him was as intensely pleasurable as kissing any girl, if a bit unfamiliar on account of the mustache. It had been a year or more since Combeferre had last dared to attempt to seduce anyone of his own sex.

He realized a few minutes later that he had not actually seduced Feuilly in any meaningful sense of the word, for the fellow had somehow coaxed him out of his clothing with the lamp still burning. It was no mean feat, given Combeferre's frugality and lack of pride in his appearance, and it made him suspect that he had never had complete control over the situation. He decided with a small shake of his head that the last thing he wanted to do was protest. Feuilly might take his hands away, or stop kissing him, or stop pressing his body to Combeferre's with that lithe undulation.

He gasped for breath and Feuilly chuckled. "Are you all right?" he asked. He was flushed, his short blond hair wild from the pillow, and he looked somehow both demonic and angelic.

Combeferre smiled at him. "More than all right." He ran his fingers over Feuilly's chest, reveling in the softness of his skin and the way his nipple hardened under an instant's pressure. He glanced at his friend's face and thought that if Feuilly had had the grace not to laugh at his terribly clumsy seduction attempt, perhaps he would not be too derisive at a further request, however peculiar or intimate it sounded to Combeferre. He kissed Feuilly gently and pulled away, making Feuilly frown.

"What are you doing?" he asked, but as Combeferre settled onto his stomach with an arm crooked under his head for support, Feuilly said, "Ah."

Combeferre hid his face. "Would you like to, ah --?" He cursed himself for being afraid of the sound of the word, but there it was, and there he was. Feuilly stroked his back as firmly as Combeferre had lately stroked his, but in a moment he slid his hand downward. One part of Combeferre's brain dutifully chattered, "Deltoids, Latissimus Dorsi, Erector Spinae, Gluteus Maximus, Hip Abductors, Hamstrings, Hip Adductors," while another part feared what he had requested on the grounds that it was considered immoral, and a third part knew only that Feuilly's hands were gentle and he wanted to be touched and embraced. This latter part won the argument for pleasure, and he pressed into the touch, reaching back to touch Feuilly's shoulder. "There's, ah, stuff that should serve in my medicine bag. It's under the bed," he called, then he sat up to stop Feuilly from disarraying the contents. "Here." Combeferre tugged open one of the myriad pockets and tilted the bottle to check its label. It was from that pharmacist who insisted on labeling things in Latin, but it was the right substance.

Feuilly took the bottle with a grave nod, although there was a definite twinkle in his eye. "Thank you."

Combeferre gave him an uncomfortable smile before lying down again. He willed himself to relax with the admonition that at least he could hide his face, and he was sufficiently entangled in his internal dialogue that he was startled when Feuilly murmured, "Sit up again?" in his ear.

"Oh. I'm sorry." He complied, blushing, and was somewhat comforted to see that Feuilly, too, seemed embarrassed.

He waved a hand. "Do you have a shirt you've already worn, or something of that sort?"

A fresh wave of heat spread across Combeferre's cheeks. "Yes. Just -- just at the end of the bed."

Feuilly rummaged around and pulled one out. "Will this do?"

Combeferre glanced at it before looking back at the bedsheets. He wanted to cover himself, but he felt it might be rude under the circumstances, as well as counterproductive. He considered asking Feuilly to douse the light, but he envisioned doing surgery in the dark and shuddered at the suggestion.

"Are you cold?" Feuilly asked, touching his shoulder gently.

"No, not really."

Feuilly kissed him lightly. "Good. Here, let's spread this out, then, shall we?" He dropped the soiled shirt onto the sheet and tugged at it until it lay mostly flat. "That should help somewhat."

"I suppose," Combeferre agreed. He gave Feuilly a nervous look and tried to imagine how foolish he would look if he were to return to the way he had been lying, sticking his rear in the air and maneuvering clumsily. He had almost made up his mind to change the momentum of the situation by refusing to submit to such indignities when Feuilly embraced him, kissed him heartily, and ran a hand up the back of his leg.

"Lie down, would you?" Something in the kiss and the renewed ardor it brought had deadened Combeferre's sense of shame. He lay on his stomach again, this time keeping a knee under himself so that he was not quite flat on the bed. He heard Feuilly murmur his name softly and felt the bed dip as he sat on it again. A moment later, Feuilly's chilly, insistent fingers explored his thighs and he bent over Combeferre, nibbling at his ear and making Combeferre shiver. "All right?"

"Oh, yes." Combeferre's voice embarrassed him by being horribly quavery already, but Feuilly either failed to notice or had the grace not to mention how ludicrous it was that Combeferre might be significantly aroused. He was grateful for the slick finger that pressed inside him; it explained his gasp, his shiver, and the wanton way in which he pressed against Feuilly's hand. In the long periods of time in which he had had no lover, he had done this to himself on occasion, but it often seemed like too much of trouble to go to when simpler measures would be nearly as pleasurable.

He regretted the omission when Feuilly, encouraged by the reaction, added a second finger. Combeferre took a hissing breath and willed himself to relax, but this was less effective than Feuilly saying softly in his ear, "It's all right. Just take a deep breath, dear, handsome friend." For no reason that Combeferre could comprehend in his present state, Feuilly's voice reverberated through his body as though he could hear with his fingers, his toes, and the too-tense muscles in his thighs. With every minute vibration, he relaxed a little more. Feuilly nipped his earlobe lightly and continued speaking. "You're beautiful like this, in the light, arching against me." Combeferre blushed, realizing that he had done the latter even as Feuilly described it. He wanted to see Feuilly's face, but it was strange enough being as exposed as he was; he could not consciously add to that, particularly when Feuilly would not be silent. "Such strong shoulders," he said, running his free hand over them and calling up a half-stifled answer of "Deltoids" from the depths of Combeferre's pleasure-hazed mind.

"You're thinking of my shoulders?" Combeferre chuckled, and Feuilly joined him in it.

"Only partially," he admitted. "I was waiting for you, you see."

Combeferre pressed against his hand again. "Odd -- I believe I was -- waiting for you."

Feuilly kissed the back of his neck and settled his hands on Combeferre's hips, leaving a damp trail on one. "Well. Perhaps you'll want both knees under you?"

He did not much want to move, but if it encouraged Feuilly to begin again, it would be well worth the effort it took to think. He sat up and knelt on the bed, leaning on the mattress while he tried to determine the best way to spread his legs again without kicking Feuilly, and sitting up when he thought he had accomplished the arrangement. "Better?" he asked, trying not to think of the picture he again presented.

There was no complaint from Feuilly; rather, he embraced Combeferre with one arm and dragged a wet finger down his spine. "Yes. Are you ready?"

"God, yes. You're thorough."

Feuilly kissed his shoulder. "I should hope so." With a soft sigh, he eased forward slowly into Combeferre. It took Combeferre all his willpower and common sense not to hurry his tortuously sweet progress, particularly when Feuilly slid back and began again.

"You'll drive me mad," he protested, reaching back to touch him.

Feuilly laughed hoarsely. "You've already driven me past madness. I'm trying to keep my head."

"Ah," Combeferre said, suppressing his urge to beg for more speed, more force, not this gradual, safe invasion that left him struggling for breath and self-control. He could not find enough of either, and he murmured, "Oh, please," almost involuntarily.

"Almost," Feuilly reassured him in a tense voice, stroking his side. "Just --"

Combeferre could feel his legs trembling. "This isn't quite comfortable," he said, noting with irritation that his voice had gone breathy and odd.

"Just a moment -- ah." Feuilly kissed the side of his neck. "Are you all right?"

Combeferre reached over his own shoulder to touch Feuilly's cheek. "I'd like to move."

"So would I," and he moved his hips, making Combeferre shudder.

"No -- I mean I can't sustain this." He knew as he said it that he requested another pause, but it was still a powerful loss when Feuilly moved back. Combeferre ran a hand over his own face and found it glistening with sweat. He reached for a pillow and put it under his chest as he leaned forward, reasoning that at least he would not have to look the other man in the eye.

The extreme vulnerability of his situation was all too clear when Feuilly caressed his lower back and pushed into him again. The earlier hesitancy had gone, washed away by impatience, and through his relief and surprise Combeferre felt another rush of desire, spurred on by Feuilly's confident hands. One lay on his chest, the other sought a rhythm on his erection to compliment the insistent thrusts which pushed the breath out of Combeferre's body and made his head feel light. At first, it was subtly off, barely wrong enough and yet horribly dissonant. Feuilly realized his mistake and corrected for it, apologizing or mumbling something that Combeferre did not comprehend, and it could not have mattered, not when everything was bright and perfect. He heard himself cry out with a sudden rush of shame almost as searing as the pleasure that blinded him, and he cursed his lack of self-control.

Feuilly failed to notice Combeferre's shame or the utter humiliation he suffered; he answered Combeferre's moan with one of his own. His hands shook for a long moment before he disentangled himself, murmuring, "Sorry," at Combeferre's not-entirely-stifled sound of discomfort.

Combeferre sat back on his heels. "It's all right." He turned to smile at Feuilly, trying to pretend that he was not embarrassed and nude.

Feuilly kissed him lightly. "That was lovely."

"It was," Combeferre agreed hurriedly, so that his friend might not feel uncomfortable.

"Do you mind if I sleep here?" Feuilly asked, yawning in the middle of the question.

"Not at all." Combeferre looked at his bed, judging its width, and hurriedly folded up the filthy shirt and dropped it onto the floor. He ran a hand over the sheet; it was slightly damp, but not intolerably so. He frowned at his own squeamishness and lay down along the inner edge of the bed.

Feuilly lay down next to him and touched his shoulder. "Do you mind if I -- that is, there isn't quite enough room." Combeferre embraced him, and Feuilly sighed. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, dear friend." Combeferre hesitated; he wanted to ask Feuilly if there were something more than passing desire and bodily needs involved in their liaison, but before he framed the question properly, Feuilly's breathing had shifted to a pattern that strongly suggested that he was asleep. With a sigh, Combeferre settled close enough to feel his companion's skin soft against his own, and let himself drift into unconsciousness.

He woke when Feuilly got out of bed in the morning. "Are you all right?" he asked blearily.

"Of course. I have to go to work, that's all." Feuilly smiled fondly at him.

"Ah." Combeferre rubbed his eyes. "Of course."

"May I borrow a comb?"

"There ought to be one on the desk."

"Ah, so there is." Feuilly set to the task of taming his disarrayed hair.

"You -- you're welcome, here. If you ever want company." Combeferre felt himself blushing.

"Thank you." Feuilly took his hand and squeezed it lightly. "I think I may consider that a true offer."

Combeferre blinked. "I didn't mean it any other way."

"Then perhaps I'll be back quite soon."

"If you wish to be."

Feuilly grinned and sat on Combeferre's chair to tie his shoes. "I've no other kind friends willing to embrace me."

"Ah. Well then."

"It was splendid." Feuilly stood again; Combeferre's head swam a little at his astounding energy so early in the morning. "If you'll have me, I'll be back." He kissed Combeferre's forehead lightly.

"Until then," Combeferre said, and found himself yawning.

"Have a good day." Feuilly put on his coat and his hat and went out into the hallway, shutting the door quietly behind himself.

Combeferre pulled the covers up to his chin and reflected on how cold his bed seemed when he was suddenly alone in it. He let himself imagine what it might be like when Feuilly returned, and fell asleep again with a smile.

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