The bar is stiflingly hot tonight, even though the doors and windows are wide open. It's relatively quiet with not many clients littering the place, and those that do, are mostly taking their pleasure in the back rooms.
I sit by myself on a barstool, as the barkeep, Dave, pours me a scotch and I light up another cigarette, jaded, awaiting the onslaught.
The bar is lit with smoky red, broadcasting its purpose to all who pass by though from experience I know that the main clientele come from the nearby naval base. I'm not one of Dave's girls, but he allows me to be here; we're friends from a long way back, and my pick-ups are rare.
A raucous crowd of young men tumble through the door, earlier than expected, and I look them over via their reflections in the mirror, calculating, judging each one of them.
Their exuberance is intense as they laugh and play, adult children let free after gruelling chores, and by this I recognise that they are not the usual sailors. By their intimacy of words and actions with each other, I deduce they are a team, no doubt one of the Special Forces teams that occasionally drop by.
One of them calls to the barkeep and Dave indicates the back room, a resigned acceptance on his face. Dave knows that the money they'll pay will more than cover the cost of the damage they'll no doubt cause as they let off steam in a manner much needed.
I'm still watching the men in the mirror, watching them disappear into the back, to enjoy the pleasures that await; the intimate pleasures of flesh, or the calming smoke-filled pleasures of the mind as takes their fancy.
But one holds back, refusing his teammates cajoling. He approaches the bar, then when the last of his friends are gone, slumps wearily on a barstool a few feet down from me.
I knock back my scotch, intending to use that good old pick-up line, but am stopped in my tracks as I meet his eyes in the mirror. The bleak grey eyes hold a self-loathing that makes my heart ache, and for the first time in an age, I see a human being rather than a means to an end.
In a reversal of roles, I offer to buy him a drink, commenting that he looks like he needs it. He shakes his head and smiles faintly, a laughter in his eyes, now blue, that I can see straight through.
I buy us both drinks anyway, Dave adding them to my tab, and he accepts, ordering us both another in retaliation.
We sit in silence for a long time, Dave topping us up regularly and as the alcohol permeates through him, the bleakness returns tenfold. I gently lead him over to a table, sliding myself next to him as he slouches against the back of the seat, his eyes seeing things in a far away place. He starts to talk, as if to himself, and tells of things no one so young should have been through.
As he comes to the stumbling conclusion of his tale, I resist the urge to gather him up in my arms and make the hurt go away. Instead, I put my hand on his, squeezing gently in support, and maybe some measure of understanding.
Shaking himself out of his maudlin thoughts, he laughingly complains of the heat, wiping the sweat running in rivulets down his face. I suggest jokingly that he takes his shirt off. He takes me at my word, though, and strips it off, folding it into a pillow to put behind his head.
He whispers a word of thanks to me and I simply nod in reply. His eyes drift shut, and I allow my gaze to shift, following the trickles of sweat down past his firm jaw, down that long throat onto the plane of his chest. I note the gold wedding ring glinting at odds with the dull metal of his dogtags, the smooth, tanned skin beneath, rising and falling gently.
As he dozes off and begins to slide to the side, I position myself closer, and wrap my arms around him. He accepts the gesture, and curls up, head in my lap. His dreams are not pleasant, but my soft caresses as I run soothing fingers over the firm flesh of his arm, his shoulder, his cheek seem to calm him.
I drift off into dreams of my own, waking occasionally to pacify his tortured shaking. He shifts, and automatically, I begin to caress him once more, but a hand stops me.
I open my eyes and see him, on his back now, head still in my lap, studying me through alcohol glazed blue eyes. He holds my gaze and brings my hand to his lips...
...I sit mesmerised as he drops a tiny kiss on each of my knuckles, feeling an anticipatory shiver building inside me with each application of his warm moist flesh against mine. Then he turns my hand to place the softness of his lips to my palm, and as I feel his agile tongue flick fleetingly against its sensitivity I can barely suppress the moan of pleasure that tries to force its way out of me. His eyes watch me, noting my reactions, and I see something moving behind their slightly unfocussed surface, some as yet unrecognisable emotion.
He moves his mouth lingeringly up to the translucent skin at the inside of my wrist to rest his lips against the now racing pulse beating there, and I am touched and amazed by his gentleness - not a trait I've generally come to expect from past experience of men in his kind of work. And given the horrors his life has seen already, it's particularly unexpected.
But I am given no time to give the matter more consideration as he continues his oral exploration of my inner arm, blazing a trail of fire as he drifts his way up to nuzzle at the sweat-damp warmth in the crook of my elbow. His touch is setting off sparks in me that are becoming hard to resist and I know he can see the effect he is creating, but he pulls gently on my hand to draw me towards him so he can move on up his chosen trail.
I suddenly find my face mere inches from his, and my breath catches in my throat as I gaze back into those blue pools, seeing his pupils flare slightly. For long moments we just look at each other, then slowly he raises his head to bring those full lips to mine - a tentative kiss, this, no passionate exchange of tongues and saliva, just a sweet pressing of flesh to flesh, two people testing the waters of future potential and I wish it could last forever.
But all too soon he pulls away, head falling back into my lap again, regarding me with speculation and the beginnings of a hint of need. His eyes ask a question I'm not sure he really means, but fuelled by the Scotch still rolling through me and the sensations he has aroused, I glance across at Dave to catch his eye and incline my head towards the back of the bar. He returns the nod with a sly grin and I turn again to smile down into the strong handsome face staring up at me.
He comes upright in a smooth controlled movement, swaying slightly as the alcohol induced dizziness washes over him, and I gather up his shirt before rising to my feet, reaching a hand to pull him with me. He leans into me, arm dropping over my shoulders as we make our unsteady way across the bar and through the velvet curtains to the smoky darkness beyond.
The rooms are small and dimly lit, just enough space for a bed and washbasin, but then they're not intended for lengthy stays. I close the door behind us, feeling him standing close, breath soft on the back of my neck, and I turn into the circle of his arms, gazing into his face, pressing my palms flat against the smooth muscled planes of his chest and running them slowly upwards to drape them around his neck.
He lowers his mouth to mine again, and this time the passion is clear in his questing lips and exploring tongue. He pulls my hips tightly against his and I can feel his growing hardness, but there is something distant, contained, about the tension in his body and breathing heavily I pull back to look at him closely. His hands move automatically to loosen and delve into my clothing, and impatiently he tries to capture my lips again. But I can see that, whether he knows it or not, deep down he neither needs nor wants this, at least not under these circumstances. And, for some reason I can't explain, despite my own barely controllable desires, his needs and wants are now mine.
I smile up at him, placing a gentle finger across his mouth to silence him as I whisper that it's OK, that he doesn't have to do this, that we can just sleep if that's what he needs. He protests, drawing me close again, hands roaming absently, but once he allows himself to think about it the look of relief in his eyes and the draining of the tenseness building in him is confirmation enough I am right.
I lead him to the bed, forcing the lust and desire firmly back in their place as I help him strip to his shorts, trying not to look too hard at the additional expanses of sculpted flesh this reveals, and pull back the thin sheet to allow him to slide gratefully under it. He sinks back against the pillow with a soul-deep sigh, watching me through drooping eyelids as I slip off my skirt and top and, clad only in my underwear, join him in the narrow bed.
He shifts towards me, and I wrap my arms around him to bring his head against my shoulder, feeling the full length of his sweat-sheened, heated body pressing along mine, relaxing against me. He drapes an arm casually across my bare stomach, sighing again contentedly as he nestles his face into the base of my neck, breath whispering against my skin, but strangely there is no sexual tension in me now, just a sense of sharing and peace.
Listening to his soft steady breathing, I plant a kiss lightly onto his high forehead, my fingers rubbing gently through the softness of the short brown hair on the back of his head, and allow myself to drift away into dreams of a potential future...
Summary: Chris fantasy. Self-beta'd, an h/c of sorts :o)