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Linus Roache/David Tennant, First Scene - Impressions, PG

(Crossposted to linus_roache and fey_gaming)

Linus walked unhurriedly down the street, one hand in his pocket, the other holding a sketchpad and pencil. He looked around at the various shopfronts; he was still getting to know the area, having only recently moved, and was curious to discover just what was around.

It was a while since he'd been somewhere new like this, he thought wryly. But things hadn't really been working out before; he hoped that his change of scene might bring a fresh start, inject a newness into both his life and his art. Already, this town was fascinating him, and he hadn't even been here a week. He was thoroughly enjoying just exploring the area.

He was also on the lookout for a likely spot where he could stop and just watch the people who walked by, sketchpad on his knee as he sketched whatever caught his eye, or his imagination. He was going to need some new material for his artwork, soon enough.

His eyes lit on one of the benches outside of a small, cozy-looking bookshop on the other side of the road, and he smiled. Yes, that would do nicely.

He crossed over to the bookshop, curiosity leading him to look in through the windows rather than immediately turning to sit and open his sketchpad. It really did look like a nice little place - and he'd had to get rid of a lot of his books when he'd moved. It would hardly matter in the long run if he went inside and poked around a bit to see if anything caught his fancy.

And anyway - he could just as easily do his people-watching from inside the shop. It certainly looked like it would be cooler in there, he thought as he dragged his slightly sweat-damp hair from his forehead.

Linus pushed the door open gently, setting the bell on it tinkling. He thought it was a nice touch. He started slowly perusing the shelves, looking for anything that might capture his interest. It was difficult to know where to start; so many of the books seemed to be almost calling to him. He wondered, with a rueful smile, whether he might be in the bookshop longer than he had first thought.

He wandered along the shelves, occasionally stopping to take a closer look at something that caught his eye. He was browsing one of the free-standing shelves in the middle of the space when he glanced over at the counter.

He momentarily forgot how to breathe when he caught sight of the man at the computer. He couldn't remember the last time anyone had had that effect on him - if, indeed, anyone ever had, which he doubted.

The younger man seemed to be thoroughly engrossed in whatever he was doing, giving Linus the chance to observe him apparently unnoticed. He was absolutely beautiful, Linus thought as he admired the other man. He had the thought that he would love to be able to draw this man - but in the next moment, he inwardly shook his head. He wouldn't be able to do him justice - the man was a work of art, brought to life.

Though he would dearly love to have the opportunity to try...

He blinked, clearing his throat slightly as he reminded himself to keep breathing. He didn't even know if the other man was single, let alone gay. He hadn't thought himself still capable of such distraction - like a schoolboy with a crush. Only magnified a hundredfold, he thought with a small smile as he tore his attention reluctantly away and tried to focus on the books in front of him, though he wasn't really seeing them. He didn't want to be caught staring at the younger man.

Then again, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if he was... But no. No matter how drawn he was to this beautiful man, he'd been burned in the past. He had learned to be careful in placing his attentions. He would have to figure out some way of discovering the other man's inclinations without making a complete ass of himself...

Not that he knew quite where to start with that. He silently cursed his own reticence, and compromised with himself by moving to browse a shelf nearer to the counter.

David was sitting at the counter of the shop, gazing at the computer screen in front of him, completely lost in what he was doing. He'd been that way for the past hour; inventory always seemed to take up all of his concentration.

He really should have called in one of his assistants to work in the front of the shop while he did this in his office, he thought, sighing softly and pushing a hand through his tawny hair. But he hadn't realized when he'd made the work schedule that he really needed to get this done today.

So, live and learn, he told himself with another sigh, focusing his attention back on the screen in front of him.

Really, he didn't mind all the hard work it took to get the bookshop on its feet. He welcomed the challenge; it kept him from thinking about what he'd left behind in Paisley. And whenever he actually did start thinking nostalgically about his former life, there was always a little voice in the back of his head that would speak up and tell him that he was much better off now.

Of course he was, he told himself. He might be alone, but he was in a new place, a beautiful city that had so much culture and history within its precincts, starting a whole new life. Most people wanted a chance like this and never got it.

He'd jumped at the chance. He'd had to get out of Paisley, to leave the places that he and his ex-boyfriend had always gone. He didn't want to take the chance of running into Padraic again -- with his new boyfriend on his arm.

It had happened twice before he'd left, and he could still feel tears coming to his eyes and what seemed like a large hand squeezing his heart in his chest if he thought about it long enough.

David shook his head angrily, trying to dispel the image that rose to his mind. He didn't need to think about that. It was in the past, a past that he'd left far behind him when he'd left Scotland and decided that his future was in America.

He loved it here so far. It had been nearly a year and a half of hard work; his cousin had left the bookshop in a bit of a mess, having given up on ever making it a profitable concern again after the hurricane, but David had plunged into the work with a vengeance. Anything to get his mind off why he'd come here.

And he'd managed to turn the place around; it had gone from barely breaking even to actually being a rather profitable business. He'd been able to hire a third assistant in the past six months, and he enjoyed the work. It gave him something to focus on.

He certainly was focused -- that was, until he heard a slight clearing of someone's throat in the shop. His head jerked up as he looked swiftly around; he hadn't heard anyone come in, and he felt terribly guilty for not welcoming whoever it was and offering to help them.

When he could finally focus on the man who was standing by one of the shelves near the counter, he was sure that his heart had skipped more than a few beats. His mouth was so dry that he didn't think he could possibly force words out.

He'd never seen such a beautiful man before in his life. To say that he was stunning would be an understatement; David had never seen anyone so perfect outside of glossy ads in magazines. It didn't seem possible that anyone so gorgeous could actually be real.

But he was undeniably real; he was standing there in the bookshop, studying the books on the shelf in front of him as though they absorbed his attention completely.

David slipped out from behind the counter, surreptitiously wiping his suddenly sweaty hands on his jeans. What was he going to say to this man? Somehow, "Hello, I'm David, I'm single, are you seeing anyone, and by the way, are you gay and would you like to be in a relationship with me and let me love you for the rest of our lives?" didn't seem quite appropriate.

He settled for approaching the man with a smile curving his lips, one hand held out in greeting. "Hello," he said softly, hoping that he wasn't disturbing the man's concentration. "Is there anything I can help you find? I'm David, by the way. I own the place."

Linus focused intently on the books in front of him, although nothing was particularly jumping out at him. He had to fight not to let his attention drift back to the beautiful young man sitting at the computer. That wasn't what he'd come in here for, he told himself sternly.

Wasn't it? a little voice murmured in the back of his mind. He'd been contemplating people-watching, and now he was in relatively close proximity to someone who he could watch quite easily without thought for anything - or anyone - else.

But no. No, he was letting his mind wander away again, in a direction he wasn't game take. He hadn't even been here a week, he reminded himself. He didn't really know anyone here yet.

And he certainly didn't need to be entertaining notions about the status of the man sitting behind the counter. Especially not so soon after he had suffered such a profound lapse in judgement that he had not only lost a friend, but felt forced to pack up and leave his old life in favour of what life in a new country might bring.

Linus closed his eyes momentarily. That was in the past, and it would do him no good to go dredging it up now. He'd made a mistake, and paid the price, moving away because he felt he couldn't face any of the people he'd known anymore.

And truth be told, he hadn't exactly gone out of his way to meet anyone since he'd moved, even as friends. He was still settling into this new life. He hadn't even finished unpacking what belongings he had been able to bring with him, with the exception of his art supplies. It was the one thing he'd felt he could really throw himself into.

Was that the life he wanted for himself? The strange single gay artist, living alone in a little apartment with only his art for company? Of course not, he told himself. Not forever, at any rate. But right now, it was all his future seemed to hold.

He pulled a few books from the shelves, glancing at them but not really seeing them. He cursed the fact that he was so easily distracted by that gorgeous face, so soon after what had happened with Richard. And yet... somehow, despite his resolve to be more aloof in future, he felt inexplicably drawn to the other man.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the younger man rise from his chair and step out from behind the counter. It took a great deal of self-control to return his gaze to the books in front of him, rather than giving in to the urge to stare; the other man moved with a grace that was awe-inspiring.

He hadn't dared to think that the younger man was approaching him until he had actually stopped alongside him, holding out his hand. Linus jumped slightly at the sound of the other man's voice; he had been utterly absorbed in his attempts to distract himself.

Slowly, he turned to face the other man, belatedly raising his own hand to shake the offered one when it occurred to him that it wouldn't do to be caught staring. No matter how stunning the man now standing before him was. "Oh, h-hello," he murmured. Damn that nervousness! he thought, as he swallowed hard and tried again. "Hello, David, nice to meet you. I'm Linus - Linus Roache." He found himself rather reluctant to let go of David's hand.

He blinked as he realised that he hadn't answered David's question. "Oh, no, I wasn't looking for anything in particular - I'm new to the neighbourhood, and was sort of poking around a bit. Saw this place, thought I'd have a look - I had to leave a lot of my books behind when I moved. Short notice and all."

He was surprised that he'd said that. Was it a bit much, that he was nearly babbling to a complete stranger? He was on the verge of spilling out the whole sorry tale of what had brought him to New Orleans in the first place, and he hardly knew the man.

Yet somehow, it didn't bother him as much as he thought it possibly ought to. It was like he had the feeling that David wouldn't judge him for what had happened, the way some of his former acquaintances and friends had.

He just knew that he was desperate to find a way to learn what David's leanings were, and whether he was single. His resolution not to get involved with anyone anytime soon seemed to have flown out of the window the first time he laid eyes on the man in front of him.

David was more than a little surprised when the other man seemed to jump at his words; he hadn't expected that he would be so engrossed in the books that he would startled by a greeting. He almost wanted to back away and apologize.

But he didn't; instead, he gave the man what he hoped was a smile that didn't betray the nervousness he felt. He wasn't quite sure what to say; he'd never seen such an utterly desirable creature in his life, and all he wanted to do was stand there and drink him in with his eyes.

But he couldn't do that, of course. He was the proprietor of the bookshop; he had to welcome this man, make him feel at home, and help him find anything he might have an interest in.

"It's lovely to meet you, Linus," he said, his Scottish burr sounding thicker than usual, due to his nervousness. It usually didn't come out so much, but then, he usually didn't have the chance to be this close to the most gorgeous man he'd ever laid eyes on.

What was such an incredibly stunning man doing here, in his bookshop? For that matter, what was such a beautiful man doing in New Orleans? He had a British accent, so he obviously wasn't American; David couldn't help but wonder if asking a question about why he was here in the city would possibly be seen as prying.

He took a deep breath, deciding to take the leap and ask. What was the worst that could happen? he asked himself, realizing as soon as his mind formed that question that he didn't want to have the answer to it.

He knew the answer. The worst thing would be Linus being annoyed at him asking questions that were too personal and walking away -- and never entering the shop again. David knew that he would regret that for the rest of his life if it happened.

But he had to know. He had to find out why Linus was in New Orleans, if he was gay, if he was single -- and if he would possibly be interested in dating him. He wanted to lead the other man to the nearest couch, sit him down, and talk to him for hours.

He wanted to know everything about Linus. But he also knew that he couldn't just jump right in with questions that might seem far too personal for two people who had just met.

David contented himself with asking the first question that had come into his mind, hoping that he was phrasing it so that it didn't sound too intrusive. "I notice that you don't speak with an American accent -- so I'm assuming that you're not from here originally," he said softly, his voice a little hesitant. "Are you living in New Orleans permanently, or just visiting?"

He found himself hoping fervently that this man was here to stay, that he would be in New Orleans for the rest of his life -- and therefore a part of David's life. Though that was yet another question that he couldn't ask quite yet ....

"I moved here from Scotland about a year and a half ago," he said, knowing that Linus might be curious about his own accent. "But New Orleans is home now. I certainly don't intend to move again for a long time -- if ever."

"What kind of books are you interested in?" he murmured, looking around the shop. There had to be some way to ascertain just what Linus's leanings were by the books he read -- and there was one way that David knew of to make that kind of discovery.

"I'm a fan of Oscar Wilde, myself," he said, trying to seem casual as he headed towards the shelves that held his "alternative literature" section. "He's always fascinated me -- his life as well as his writing." There. That should give Linus at least a clue as to his orientation.

"I've also always liked classic Greek literature," he went on, hoping that his voice didn't sound too breathless. This wasn't easy to do, to give Linus an idea of who he was without sounding as if he was hinting at anything. Well, he was, really, but he didn't want to be obvious about it. There was a way to handle this with finesse.

Though that had never been his strong point, the little voice that always tended to pop up in hid mind when it was least wanted reminded him at that moment.

Linus caught the smile David gave him, his own lips curving in response - the man's smile was as beautiful as the rest of him, and utterly contagious. Not for the first time, he caught himself wondering what it would be like to kiss those gorgeous lips.

He was fascinated by David's voice - judging by his accent, he clearly wasn't a local boy either. That burr was unmistakable - and gave Linus the feeling that he could quite cheerfully listen to the younger man reciting the phone book, just to hear that voice.

He smiled at David's question, noticing the hesitation in the other man's voice. No doubt he thought he was prying - but he felt as though he would tell David whatever he wanted to know.

"No, I'm not from around here." He shook his head to emphasise his words. "I just moved here from England a week ago. But this is certainly more than a visit - I'm hoping this might become home, since I'm not exactly welcome where I used to be anymore."

There he went again, he thought - saying more than perhaps he ought to, for a first meeting. Especially a first meeting in a shop. But there was just something about David; some indefinable air about him that made Linus want to throw caution to the winds and just tell him everything.

When David explained his accent, Linus nodded. "I had wondered if perhaps you weren't a local either. But you certainly chose a decent place to call home - I'm not sure I'd want to move either, now that I'm here."

Linus looked thoughtful as he pondered the question. "What sort of books? Well... a little bit of everything, really. I'm rather partial to biographies, though - it fascinates me to learn what life was like for those who came before us."

He blinked when David talked about his fascination with Wilde - was he suggesting what Linus thought he was? Or was that his own wishful thinking talking, letting him hear the words a certain way?

"Ah, yes," he said softly. "A brilliant man in many ways, I've always thought." He decided to release his grip on caution, just a bit; see whether David really was hinting at what he thought he was. "I'm glad things have improved since his time, though. It's not pleasant to contemplate being locked up just for being who and what we are, the way he was."

The mention of Greek literature made Linus fight to keep from letting his eyebrows leap to meet his hairline. Was it really possible that David was suggesting what it sounded like he was? Every time he had that thought, the part of him that urged him to be careful seemed to become fainter.

He desperately wanted to just say what he meant, but he still did not want to chance that perhaps he had read the other man wrong.

"I rather like Homer, I must say. Although that is about the extent of my knowledge in that area." Again, he tested the waters. "Still, I must say that it fascinates me - Achilles in particular."

He waited to see what David's reaction would be to his rather vague hints, hardly daring to hope that this beautiful man might possibly share his inclinations.

David frowned at Linus's words, immediately wondering what would make him say something like that -- and wondering why Linus would feel that he wasn't welcome in the place he'd come from. Had something terrible happened, something that had made him run away?

He looked anxiously at the other man, but he couldn't see anything physical that looked as if he might have been in some sort of fight. Of course, that wouldn't show up, especially if it had been a while since whatever the incident was had happened.

He caught his lower lip between his teeth, wondering if he dared to ask just what had brought Linus here and made him feel that he couldn't stay in his home. Would it seem too much like prying if he did?

Taking a deep breath, he decided that the only way to go about this was to jump right in and ask. After all, he'd never find out if he just danced around the subject.

"Did something happen that made you feel you couldn't stay there?" he asked softly, wanting to reach out and take Linus's hand in his own, but not feeling that he could dare to get that close yet. Maybe Linus was one of those people who didn't like to be touched by strangers -- he himself didn't like people he didn't know getting too physically close to him.

Though with this man, he would feel entirely different, he had to admit. He'd never wanted anything in his life as badly as he wanted to be in Linus's arms -- and he desperately needed to find out if the other man might happen to feel the same way.

"Are you .... all right?" he enquired, his voice a little hesitant. "If there's anything you need -- or even just a friend to talk to -- I'm offering my services."

David looked down and blushed as he spoke; that was probably the wrong thing to say. It would make him sound like some sort of prostitute, if Linus chose to take the words the wrong way. Maybe he'd better try to explain just what he'd meant ....

"I mean .... if you're looking for a friend .... or something more than a friend ...." His voice trailed off, his blush intensifying. He was definitely going about this in the wrong way; he was not only managing to stick his foot in his mouth, but apparently his entire leg right along with it. He'd never felt so foolish in his life.

But now that he'd started speaking, he couldn't very well stop. He had to see this though, no matter how stupid he might sound. He just hoped that he wouldn't alienate Linus with whatever he said, since he didn't seem to be able to get the right words to come out -- or to be able to control what he said.

He smiled with relief at Linus's next words; ah, Wilde, a subject he could talk about for hours. And if he wasn't mistaken, Linus seemed to be trying to give him the same kinds of clues that he'd been attempting to impart to the other man.

"I'm just glad that there's much more acceptance of who we are these days," he murmured, his dark eyes fixed on Linus's face. "I was lucky when I lived at home -- even though Paisley is a small place, I didn't have to deal with homophobia much."

There. It was out. Linus should definitely know his orientation by now; that one simple sentence could tell him so much, if he chose to interpret the words correctly.

"Achilles and Patroclus." He nodded, deciding to take another chance and tackle the subject even more directly. "That's always been one of my favorite parts of history -- proof to me that men like us were even more accepted in ancient times than they are in modern ones."

He nearly held his breath in anticipation; what if he'd somehow managed to make Linus angry or uncomfortable? But he was almost positive that this man was attracted to him; they were both dancing around each other in a civilized mating ritual, waiting for the real truths to come out.

And when those truths did come out .... David had to hold back a shiver of anticipation, his eyes staying fixed on Linus's face. He wanted so badly to touch this man, to kiss him, to have some kind of physical contact with him, but he held himself back -- for now.

Linus was slightly surprised when David seemed to be giving in to curiosity by asking what had driven him to move. He was even more surprised to realise with absolute certainty that he didn't mind the question being asked of him. In fact, he was more than happy to answer - anything that David might want to ask him.

"Yes, it did," he replied softly, not quite meeting David's gaze. "There was... an awkward situation with someone I had considered a close friend. It made me feel uncomfortable, and betrayed - so much so that I felt I couldn't stay." He lifted his eyes to meet David's, then. "So I decided to get out, as far away as possible. And I wound up here."

As he spoke, he felt as though the weight of the situation he had tried to leave behind was finally starting to be properly lifted from his shoulders. He hadn't really felt able to discuss the debacle with Richard with anyone, beyond the very little he had told to the few who might actually care that he was moving away.

But now, as he looked into David's eyes, he felt as though perhaps he had finally found someone who would understand. Someone he could talk to, not only about the events that had driven him to New Orleans, but about anything and everything.

He was touched by the concern he heard in David's hesitant voice as he enquired whether Linus was alright. It seemed ironic that a man he had just met seemed more worried about him than many of the people he'd left behind - combined.

Not that he thought David was just any man. Not with how drawn to him he was.

When David blushed as he fought to find words, Linus had to fight back a smile for fear of hurting the other man's feelings. He was absolutely adorable when he blushed, Linus decided, almost wondering what it would be like to see that flush creep over the younger man in... other circumstances.

"Oh, I'd like that very much," he murmured, hardly realising he'd said the words until they were out of his mouth. He turned pink himself, but did not wish the words unsaid. Hesitantly, he reached forward and brushed his fingertips against David's, clasping for a brief second before pulling away with even more hesitation than when he had reached for the other man's hand.

David's response to his comment about Wilde made him want to grin like an idiot; it seemed that he had not only read him correctly, but that his own hints had been received and understood. "You were lucky indeed - I wish I could say the same. Maybe if there'd been a little less homophobia back home, I wouldn't have gotten into the mess I did. Mind you..."

He reached forward again, taking David's hand gently and this time not letting go. "Perhaps I should be thankful to them, in a way. If I hadn't felt driven away, I might never have ended up here." He smiled slightly, a small part of him still wondering if he was being too bold.

He firmly told that nagging, insecure little voice to shut up. Whether he was or he wasn't, it was done now. And for his part, there were no regrets.

He nodded at David's next words. "Indeed. Which makes you wonder, doesn't it? For all the ways that society has supposedly moved forward, it is amazing that it can be so very backward in that respect."

He held David's gaze, the other man's hand still loosely clasped in his, and prayed to whatever deity might be listening that he had done the right thing. The cards were all on the table, now; all that remained to be seen was whether David felt as strongly as he himself did.

"I'm sorry all that happened," David said, sighing and backing away. He disentangled his hand from Linus's, turning to the shelf of books. This man didn't seem to be interested in anything but a friendship, from what he could tell, and he wasn't going to get his feelings involved when it was fairly obvious there was nothing to be had from it.

He'd thought when Linus had first walked into the place that there was some kind of spark between them -- but now, it didn't seem that way. And he didn't want to get his hopes up over someone who apparently wasn't ready to let go of their past.

What had made him feel that there could have been something between them, anyway? Just because Linus was gorgeous -- and obviously gay -- that didn't mean that he was the kind of man David was looking for. From what David could tell, he wasn't.

He wanted a man who would fall in love with him at first sight, someone who would take him in their arms and literally sweep him off his feet. Someone who would be physically drawn to him, who would whisper sweet nothings in his ear and make his knees go weak. He'd thought, for a few seconds, that Linus was that man.

But no .... there had been nothing more than polite conversation, the usual circling around each other, the "getting to know you" polite questions and answers. That wasn't what he wanted.

So, Linus was gay. In New Orleans, that wasn't exactly strange. Most of the men he'd met here were gay -- or if they weren't, they were certainly gay-friendly. But this obviously wasn't going to be what he wanted -- or needed. It was time to put away his dreams and accept the fact that he was always going to be alone.

"If you're looking for something along the lines of gay literature, I definitely have plenty of that," he said briskly, not looking at Linus again. If he did, he was sure that his disappointment would show in his eyes, and he didn't want that.

"Or if not .... just let me know what else you might be interested in, and I'll see what I can do." He gave Linus a small, noncommittal smile before he turned away, back towards the counter and his computer, and the work he'd been doing when Linus came in.

Linus felt his heart clench as David pulled away from him. Had he somehow read him wrong, after all? Had he managed to misjudge the suggestions he'd thought the other man had been making?

No... no, it didn't feel like that was it. He was certain that he hadn't imagined the pull that he'd felt for David - that he still felt, even as the other man was turning away from him. Somehow, something had been lost in communication - and this was the result.

He wanted to rage and curse at himself for his own stupidity - in his nervousness, he'd allowed himself to be too hesitant. It didn't take a genius to figure out what that hesitation had most likely translated to in David's eyes.

The other man thought that he wasn't interested; that he was offering nothing more than casual friendship - when Linus wanted so much more.

And now it seemed as though David was turning away, and Linus knew with absolute certainty that he would not be able to bear it if he did. David had fascinated him from the moment he'd laid eyes on him - and he was starting to realise that his first big mistake had probably been that he hadn't stated the fact.

He wasn't sure just what part of him spurred him into action; perhaps it was just the thought of David walking out of his life before they'd even had a chance to have a life together.

He reached out, grabbing David's hand as he began to move back towards the counter. "David, wait."

Before he could let that hesitant voice talk him out of it, he pulled David towards him and kissed him soundly, not caring if anyone saw. All he knew in that moment was that he desperately wanted the two of them to be together, and he tried to communicate those feelings as best he could through the meeting of their lips.

He'd imagined what it might be like, kissing David. Almost from the moment he'd first seen him. The reality far outshone the thoughts he'd had before.

He pulled back, reluctantly, trying to meet David's gaze as he anxiously watched the other man. He didn't know what else he could do - or what he would do if David still chose to walk away.

"You're incredible, David," he murmured softly, his hands resting on David's upper arms as he leaned forward, praying that the other man would hear his emotions in his words. "I thought so from the moment I saw you. I want us to be together, if you'll have me."

David gasped when Linus grabbed his hand; he hadn't expected that, and the momentum of being turned around took his breath away for a few moments. He stood there, stock-still, looking into Linus's eyes and wondering what he meant by this.

He was probably annoyed that David had turned away from him, was the first thing that crossed his mind. But he hadn't pegged Linus as being someone who would let negative emotions like anger run away with him, so that couldn't be it ....

David was even more startled when he was pulled against Linus's body; for a moment, the shock was so great that he almost forgot to breathe -- not that he could have done so if he tried. His lungs didn't seem capable of working.

And then, when those lips were on his .... David lost all sense of anything and anyone around him; all he could feel was Linus's arms, Linus's lips, the fact that he was in the arms of a man he wanted more than he'd ever thought he could want anyone. If he were to die now, in this moment, he would die happy.

But those thoughts weren't exactly coherent in his mind; the only thing he could think of was that Linus was kissing him, and that it was even more wonderful than he'd imagined it would be.

He'd never been kissed like this; softly and gently at first, then with more force and passion. Those strong arms were around him, holding him close; he could feel Linus's heartbeat against his chest, beating in what seemed like a synchronized rhythm with his own. Nothing else mattered in the world except that Linus was holding him and kissing him, and that he never wanted to move from this embrace.

His hands moved up from where they'd been hanging limply at his sides to twine through Linus's hair; he put everything in his heart into the kiss, not caring if he was coming on too strong or if he might be taken the wrong way. None of that seemed to matter now.

If Linus was kissing him like this, then it had to mean that he wanted David just as much as David wanted him. If he was reading this the wrong way, then he would pay for it in heartache in just a few moments -- but he was going to enjoy this while he could, enjoy every second of it, and damn the consequences.

Linus's lips were so soft; he'd never met anyone else who could kiss like this, he thought hazily as the other man's tongue explored his mouth slowly and leisurely. He wanted to melt into this kiss, lose himself in a realm of pure sensation.

All too soon, it was ending; but Linus wasn't releasing him or pushing him away. He was still locked into the other man's embrace, those strong arms still holding him close, their heartbeats pounding against each other as though their hearts were trying to meld themselves together.

"So are you," he managed to say, the words gasped out, his breath hitching in his throat when he spoke. "And of course I'll have you. There's nothing I want more than to be with you."

He held his breath for the next few moments, wondering just what Linus would say in response to them. He wasn't going to hold back his feelings any longer; even if they weren't returned, it was better to have them out in the open, honest and true.

Linus felt his heart soar when David returned the kiss; he had been afraid for a moment that he might still have read the younger man wrong and that he might have pulled away. When those particular fears proved groundless, he allowed himself to be swept up in the rush of emotion that threatened to overwhelm him.

He felt that he could stay like this forever, this wonderful man in his arms, lost in a world that held only the two of them.

It had ended far too soon, for his liking. But he needed to be sure that his feelings were returned. He didn't even want to think about what would happen if they weren't - though he wondered how they could not be, after that kiss; a kiss that had seemed to say far more than words ever could.

He couldn't hold back a smile at David's words, holding the other man close and raising a hand to bury it in David's hair. "Nor I, you," he whispered in David's ear. "Nothing could be more important to me than this."

For a long moment, he just held David close to him, revelling in the feel of the other man's slender body against his own. No-one else had ever felt as though they were made to fit against him, like pieces of a puzzle locking seamlessly together.

This was what he had been missing all of his life, he knew it. This wonderful sense of completion, the feeling that this was just right, no matter what anyone else said.

He pulled back just enough to meet David's eyes, that amazing dark gaze seeming to draw him in. "I really am rather glad I decided to walk in here, you know," he said softly, gentle humour in his eyes even as his tone was quietly sincere. His gaze softened, his voice even quieter. "I would hate to think that I could have missed this - missed you."

He moved forward to kiss David again, his arm wrapped around the other man's waist as his other hand drifted down the line of his jaw before coming back up to cradle his head. Yes, he was definitely glad he'd chosen to enter the little bookshop, he thought.

He couldn't even remember exactly why he'd been there, now - it hardly mattered. Not anymore.

He hadn't even noticed when he'd dropped his sketchpad on the floor when he had reached for David, determined not to let the other man walk out of his life.

He lost himself in the kiss, his world narrowing to just the two of them. Nothing else mattered in this moment. All he knew was that he wanted nothing more than to give himself to David; heart, body and soul, now and always.

The kiss was broken only when they needed to come up for air; he leaned his forehead against David's, panting slightly as he fought air back into his lungs. "You... really are... amazing," he gasped.

David wanted this kiss to go on forever; he still could hardly believe that it was happening. It was as though every wish he'd ever made had suddenly come true all at once -- and that every wish he'd ever had was embodied in this beautiful man.

How could someone like Linus want him? It seemed impossible, yet it was happening. He didn't have to pinch himself to know that this was true, it was real, and that Linus was actually here and David was being held in his arms.

He was reluctant to loosen his grip on the other man, and since Linus seemed to have no objections to David's arms being wrapped around his neck, he didn't. No one had ever wanted his embrace before -- well, not unless they were in bed, and that was a completely different situation than the one they were in now.

The thought of possibly being in bed with Linus brought another blush to his cheeks, one that he couldn't keep back. He wanted this man to take him to bed, wanted Linus to undress him slowly and sensually, to make love to him all night -- and all day, too, truth be told.

But that wasn't something he could put into words, at least not now. They were just starting to develop something; voicing those sorts of thoughts could very well chase Linus away from him for good, and he wasn't going to risk that.

David swallowed hard, looking into the other man's eyes. What was it he had told himself only a few moments ago about always expressing his feelings and being truthful with Linus?

He had to do that now. He had to let Linus know how he felt and what he was thinking. There was no way he could hold himself back from this man -- and besides, if Linus was the type to run away when sex was mentioned, then he wasn't the man for David, after all.

"I .... I want to be with you in .... in a .... more intimate way," he murmured, stumbling over his words. He couldn't think of the right thing to say; all he could do was to let the words come out as they would, even if they didn't sound quite right and he was still terrified that he would chase Linus away with the intensity of his feelings.

"I want you to make love to me," he whispered, his fingers tightening in Linus's hair. "I want us to be together in every sense of the word. I want to spend my whole life with you. I want to make you the center of my life -- and I want to be the center of yours."

David almost held his breath as soon as he'd spoken, for fear that he'd said too much. What would Linus think of that confession? Would it be too much, too soon? Or, by some miracle, some quirk of fate, could he possibly feel the same way?

Maybe he shouldn't have spoken, he told himself belatedly, almost wishing the words unsaid. But they were out; he couldn't take them back now.

He'd know in a few moments, he told himself as he searched the other man's face for some kind of reaction to his words, hoping that it would be a good one and that he wouldn't have to face rejection in those beautiful eyes that he'd already come to love.

Linus was in no hurry to move away from the embrace. If he was honest, he rather liked the feel of David's arms around his neck, that slender body pressed against his own. It was a feeling he could quite cheerfully get used to, he thought as he smoothed a hand down David's back.

It was so hard for him to believe that only that morning, he'd simply been going about his life; getting to know the city he now called home, relatively content with the way things had been going.

That morning seemed a lifetime ago, now. Everything that he had been up until this moment seemed pale and irrelevant in contrast to what his future might hold. Strange to think how his recent past had seemed like such an important thing, before he'd met David.

David, who had captivated him from the moment he'd laid eyes on him; who seemed so wonderfully confident in some ways and unsure in others; who miraculously seemed as interested in him as he was in David.

David's blush once again brought some rather interesting thoughts to the front of his mind, and he wondered what it would be like to feel the younger man pressed against him as they were now, but without the frankly annoying layers of clothing in the way...

He really did want to find out. He wanted to know David far more intimately; he wanted them to be lovers, he was as sure of that as he had ever been about anything in his life.

He wanted to shout for joy at David's admission. "It seems we were having the same thoughts," he replied softly, his voice low. He reached a hand up to bury his fingers in David's hair even as the other slid down to cup his ass. "I want to be with you in every possible sense. I want to share my life with you, focus my whole world around you. I want to make love to you, and know that I am the luckiest man alive to have such a beautiful, wonderful man as my lover."

He kissed David again, pulling back to look deeply into those fathomless dark eyes, his hand on David's ass still holding the other man close against him while he continued to run the fingers of his other hand through David's hair. "I want to love you, David... so much and for so long that we forget what it felt like to live any other way."

He continued to gaze into David's eyes, aware that some people might consider his declaration to be horribly cheesy. But he didn't think it was; it was the honest truth of his feelings. And if it might seem a bit flowery to some - well, he was an artist. Surely he could be forgiven that.

He hoped David would see it that way too. He couldn't bear the thought of driving David away from him - he had almost managed to do that once already. He fervently wanted to keep from doing it again.

And he really did want to get to know David better - much better. As soon as he possibly could.

"How soon do you finish work?" he asked as he trailed his fingertips along David's cheek, his voice still soft and low. He hoped it would be soon.

David groaned as Linus's hand slid down his back to cup his ass; he wanted that hand to stay there, to explore his body more intimately than just resting there on the curve of his bottom. But they were a public place, so that would have to wait.

He only admitted that very reluctantly; he hated to think that he would have to wait to be with Linus. All he wanted to do at the moment was to take this man back to his house, lead him to the bedroom, and strip off their clothes. He was ready to lose himself in Linus -- and to surrender himself completely.

A sudden thought stopped him, bursting across his mind with the force of an exploding meteor, leaving him shaken and questioning what he'd been feeling and thinking mere seconds before.

What if Linus only thought that he wanted sex, and nothing more? The last thing he wanted was for this incredible man to read that into his actions; no, he wanted so much more than just a quick physical encounter that would only last a few hours, at best.

He wanted Linus in his life for the long run -- forever. He wanted to wake up with this man every morning for the rest of his life, to fall asleep next to him, cradled in Linus's arms. He wanted to make love to Linus, and to let this beautiful man make love to him. He wanted to explore all the forbidden things that he'd always been too afraid to even mention to anyone else.

He wanted to spend the rest of his life with Linus -- and from what this man was saying, could he possibly feel the same way? David tried to get a grip on his whirling senses, to listen to what Linus was saying and to focus on the here and now.

That was hard to do when their bodies were pressed so closely together -- and when that warm hand was cupping and gently squeezing his ass cheeks.

His eyes widened as he took in the words Linus was saying; could this possibly be true, or was it just a figment of his imagination? It didn't seem possible that anyone could feel this way about him. This was what he'd been searching for all of his life, and had been convinced that he was never going to find, no matter how long and how hard he looked for it.

But here was Linus, holding him in those strong arms, smiling at him, saying these words as though they were the most natural thing in the world. They didn't sound fake, they didn't sound rehearsed; no, they were completely sincere. David was sure of that, more sure than he'd ever been of anything.

"I want to love you, too," he answered breathlessly when he could finally find his voice again. "I want to spend my life with you, Linus. I know that it may seem very soon for me to feel this way -- but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't."

No one had ever said words like that to him before -- and seemed to actually mean them. It was hard to believe that he was hearing them now -- and from the man of his dreams. David almost wanted to pinch himself to be sure that he wasn't dreaming.

No. This couldn't be a dream. Linus was real, this was real .... and he was going to make the most of this moment, grab it and hold on to it as tightly as he could. Because this was no ordinary moment -- this was the rest of his life, just bursting into full bloom, the promise of a life that he'd never dared to dream he could have but that he'd always longed for.

It took him a few moments to realize that Linus had spoken again, that he was asking what time David would be able to leave. He glanced up at the clock, then fixed his gaze on Linus's face again, a smile spreading over his features.

"As it happens, my night shift person should be here in about ten minutes," he said softly, leaning forward to brush his lips against Linus's cheek. "And from then on, I'm free for the next two days. My assistants work on the weekends, and I just pop in here and there to check on things. You have me all to yourself."

"It doesn't seem too soon to me, David," Linus murmured as he held David's gaze, his hand caressing the other man's jawline. "I feel the same way. I would very much like to spend my life with you - starting immediately, if not sooner."

To anyone else, it might have seemed like they were moving awfully quickly. But to Linus, this seemingly-headlong pace just felt right. He couldn't slow things down if he tried, and he didn't particularly feel much like trying.

What need was there for taking things slowly, anyway? It was already apparent that the two of them both wanted to be together, so what use was there in slowing down and being cautious? There was none, he told himself. He'd tried the slower route, and David had nearly turned away from him as a result.

He'd known almost as soon as he'd laid eyes on David that he felt more than a fleeting surface attraction to him. So how could he feel that it was too soon for David to feel the way he did, when he shared those feelings?

Could it really be termed 'too soon' if they both felt the same?

He wanted to stay in this moment - to be able to just keep holding David close to him, with no thought for the world beyond the two of them together. He felt that right now, nothing else mattered but the fact that he was here, with David in his arms and the prospect of a wonderful future ahead - a future he hadn't dreamed of having before he'd made the decision to walk into the bookshop.

He'd never really understood the old saying "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" before. But now, he felt that he had a fair idea. This day would be the first of a whole new life for him - his past no longer mattered. His future was with David.

He nodded when David told him the person working the evening shift would be starting soon, a delightful shiver coursing through him as David's lips brushed his cheek. He smiled when David told him that he had the weekend free. "That sounds wonderful," he whispered in David's ear. "I would love to spend the weekend getting to know you better - the weekend, and beyond."

He pulled back slightly to glance at the clock, feeling as though he had never been as impatient as he was right now, waiting for David to finish work. He returned his gaze to David's, their eyes meeting for a moment before he moved in to kiss him again. He wrapped his arm around David's waist, holding him close as his fingertips drifted along his back, his other hand still resting on his ass.

"Is there... anywhere in particular... where you wanted to go?" he asked softly as the kiss ended, the words coming out around his attempts to get air back into his lungs. He couldn't remember anyone ever having the ability to make it seem like he was having trouble breathing normally before. He couldn't wait until David was off work and they could be alone.

"You already have me -- in this life, and in any other that might happen to come along," David whispered, raising a hand to trace his fingertips along the strong line of Linus's jaw. He couldn't take his eyes from this man's face; it was almost impossible for him to believe that Linus could feel the same way that he did.

This was too good to be true, he told himself, wanting to pinch his arm to make sure that he hadn't fallen asleep at the computer. Maybe he was dreaming all of this -- it certainly seemed as though it could be something out of his imagination.

After all, it wasn't every day that an absolutely beautiful man came into his shop and engaged him in conversation -- and responded to a few hints that he threw out by taking him into their arms and kissing him, and saying that they wanted to be with him.

It was like a fairy tale come to life, he told himself, his dark eyes locked on the other man's face. With himself in the role of .... what would it be? Cinderella?

And Linus was playing the part of Prince Charming -- which he most definitely was. He'd never met a man who fit that description so perfectly, from his attitude, to his looks, to .... everything that he knew about Linus so far. Which wasn't much, he had to admit -- but they could remedy that by spending time with each other.

And that was exactly what he intended to do, David told himself firmly. He had the weekend free; he could spend as much time as possible with Linus, if the other man didn't have any firm commitments and had nowhere to be.

He closed his eyes, drawing in a deep breath, more aware than ever of that warm hand resting on his ass. If he wasn't careful, he'd be begging Linus to take him right here in the shop ....

No, he wasn't going to do that. He was going to invite this man back to his house for tea, and hopefully for dinner as well. At the rate things were going at the moment, he was probably going to invite Linus to stay for the weekend -- and for the rest of his life, if he wanted to.

David caught Linus's gaze drifting to where the knew the clock was on the wall, and he couldn't help smiling. It seemed that this man was just as eager as he was for time to pass so they could have time to be together, in a much less public place.

He shook his head in answer to Linus's question, but then smiled and corrected himself. "Yes, actually, there was," he murmured, hoping that Linus wouldn't feel that it was too soon for him to be invited to David's house. "I thought you might like to come back to my house for tea. It's the house next to the shop."

This would be the first time he'd had a man he was interested in come to his home since he'd moved here, he thought, his heartbeats quickening. What would Linus say if he knew that?

David almost held his breath, wondering if Linus would say yes to his invitation, or back away if he felt that it was extended too quickly. But what was the use of holding back his feelings? He knew how he felt, and from what he could gather, Linus was feeling the same way.

It would be ridiculous for either of them not to listen to what their hearts were saying, the little voice in his head reiterated for what seemed like the hundredth time. Besides, he'd told himself that he was going to be honest with this man about everything he felt.

"If you'd be more comfortable in a more public place, we could go out somewhere -- but there's a gazebo in the back yard of my house, and I thought that we could have tea there and .... and talk." He stumbled over the last words, his nervousness starting to come back in full force.

Linus smiled as David's fingers trailed along his jaw. "As you have me," he murmured, his eyes never leaving David's. He was amazed that someone as beautiful as David was real, and even more so that this beautiful man was here in his arms. And already in his heart.

He mentally thanked whatever deity had seen fit to guide him to this point, to send him into the little bookshop and to lead him to David. He'd never been really sure if he believed in fate before, but he felt that it couldn't have been mere coincidence that he and David had met. Not when they had connected so suddenly.

He had never felt anything like this with anyone else before. It was as though no-one else in his life mattered to him as much as David did. He wanted nothing more than for that feeling to continue, and never fade.

That might have seemed odd to some, the fact that he already felt so utterly devoted to someone that, it could be argued, he had only just met. But Linus already knew that he didn't give a shit what anyone else thought. What mattered was what he and David thought - and it was rapidly becoming clear that they both felt the same way about each other.

It occurred to him, even as he stood with David in his arms, that he had no real idea of where they could go if David didn't have anything in mind. Truth be told, he wasn't really the social butterfly type - and besides, he wanted to spend time with David without the possibility of prying eyes and ears.

Really, he wanted to have David to himself. And he wasn't yet familiar enough with the city to know of any places that they could go to and be alone.

He was pleasantly surprised when David invited him back to his home. A gentle smile played on his lips as he nodded. "That sounds wonderful, David," he murmured, his eyes never leaving David's as he spoke. "I would love to."

He could hardly believe what he was hearing. His life seemed to have made a complete turnaround since he'd left his apartment that morning to roam the neighbourhood. And it seemed as though it would only continue to change for the better, now that David was part of it. He desperately hoped that the younger man would continue to be a part of his life, for a very long time to come.

When David spoke again, evidently nervous, Linus brought a hand up to cup his cheek. "I'll be honest, I'm not really one for crowds of people. The gazebo sounds perfect." He brushed his thumb against David's lips, before leaning forward for another kiss. "I'm looking forward to it already."

He wished that time would speed up a bit. The sooner David's assistant arrived, the sooner he and David could spend some time alone together.

David couldn't keep back a sigh of relief when Linus agreed to his proposition that they go back to his house. He'd worried for a moment that the other man would feel that it was too soon for something like that, and that he would pull back.

In the next moment, he wanted to laugh at himself for that thought. Considering how fast they had already moved, how could either one of them have doubts about spending time alone with each other? That was what they obviously both wanted, and neither of them were children.

They were certainly capable of spending time with each other and deciding when it was time for things to move forward. Though at this point, David doubted that he himself could be objecitve about his feelings. If it had been up to him, he'd probably have had Linus making love to him on the desk in his office by now ....

He tore his thoughts away from that admittedly tempting idea, glancing up at the clock. The night person who was scheduled to work this evening should be here at any moment.

David turned his attention back to what Linus was saying with difficulty; he seemed to be having a very hard time controlling his thoughts, keeping them away from visions of what he and Linus could be doing once they were alone and --

Clearing his throat, he nodded, agreeing with the words he'd just heard Linus say. "I'm not really one for crowds, either -- which might sound strange from someone who runs a bookshop and depends on people to keep their business going well," he said with a laugh, shaking his head. "I suppose that I can be an odd contradiction sometimes."

But one that he hoped Linus wanted to delve into -- and he definitely seemed to want that, if everything that had transpired between them so far was anything to go by. It had all happened so fast; it already seemed like a blur in his memory.

Had he really jumped into something so quickly with this man? What had happened to his intention of not letting himself get involved again until he was absolutely sure of the other person? He'd certainly thrown that idea out of the window in record time.

He was sure, David told himself. He knew that this was what he wanted; and more than that, he knew in his heart that this was right.

Even as that thought flew through his mind, the door opened and his evening assistant came in, stopping with a wide-eyed look of surprise at seeing David standing there holding a man's hand and looking as though he couldn't wait to leave.

"Oh ...." David blushed, making the introductions quickly, even as he moved towards the door. "Alex, this is Linus -- Linus, Alex. Give me a call if you need anything, Alex. You know where I'll be." His tone of voice implied that he hoped there would be no call tonight.

He closed the door of the shop firmly, leaning against it for a moment with a sigh. "Free at last," he said softly, pushing himself away from the door and leading Linus down the sidewalk towards his house. "For the weekend, I hope, unless something comes up and they need my help. I'll just have to pop in for a few minutes tomorrow, but other than that ...."

He deliberately left the phrase open; he glanced at Linus from under his lashes, feeling that he was embarking on a journey where anything could happen.

David could feel his heart leaping in his chest; this day had started out like any other, and look how it had ended up. It wasn't over yet, he reminded himself; they had the whole evening ahead of them, and he could hardly wait for it to begin.



November 2009

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