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The alcohol was no excuse, though the wine had been uncommonly good, and he had drunk more than his wont. The coca leaves ought to have produced no effects which he could not regulate, even if he had indulged in six rather than his usual three this evening. And Jack was certainly not to blame; he had only touched Stephen's arm unconsciously, to offer support against the ship's motion, and if their knees had met beneath the supper table that was not to be laid to his account. This sensation of desire, the electric shiver that ran along his limbs and trembled his hands, could only be explained by some inherent weakness, some hitherto-unperceived cast to his own character and rationality.
As he could hardly expect to eradicate or repair such a flaw so late in his life, Stephen at present thought it only the most clear and rational choice to inquire if Jack would permit a liberty, and, on receiving a slightly confused assent, to try a kiss, to see if this might satisfy the urge. It did not, save by replacing it with a stronger one which demanded further action.
Stephen ignored Jack's muffled and flailing protests, and shortly they ceased entirely.
"Oh, God, Stephen," Jack said; the last intelligible words he managed over the course of the next half-hour, though the gasping was nearly continuous, and occasionally he gave an inarticulate cry. It was arousing beyond anything to hear him so overwhelmed by such simple measures: the edge of Stephen's thumb run along the placket of his breeches, Stephen's teeth set lightly into the flesh of his shoulder. He yielded to everything, though his eyes were wide and panicked like a horse being broke to saddle.
His skin tasted of salt, unsurprisingly; his full-fleshed body was comfortable to climb upon as any couch, and his eyes were made more brilliant by the water that stood in them as Stephen entered him. The tears were not from pain: there was no instinctive shrinking, and Stephen had made practical use of some tallow from a candle; it was only terror. They spilled over as Stephen moved, thrust, took; Jack whispered, "Stephen, Stephen," and shuddered to climax, his face shocked and wet.
"Dearest," Stephen said afterwards, kissing him again and again; he felt enormously satisfied and content. Dimly he felt he ought to be ashamed, or anxious, but somehow no such emotion could touch him at present. Jack gradually calmed beneath his hands and lips, and he seemed to catch Stephen's glowing mood; abruptly he kissed Stephen in return, and asked him to come lie down together.
In his cot, they cuddled and stroked one another with equal enthusiasm, until Jack succumbed to sleep. Stephen lay awake some time longer; he still felt full of energy and unnaturally clear perception. But this sensation faded, and he slid into a thick exhausted slumber.
Jack kissed him awake the next morning; slow and stupid, Stephen opened his mouth to Jack's tongue and his arms to Jack's body; he was brought to full arousal by a broad stroking hand, and gasped as Jack came upon him. Jack was remarkably well-endowed; Stephen had noticed it before, but not with so much personal application. Fortunately the hanging lantern was in reach.
When they had done, Jack rolled out of the cot singing Deh vieni
in imperfect Italian but a cheerful voice; Stephen lay staring up at the swaying deck, breathing heavily, and touched his swollen lips with an exploratory hand. His head was aching, but clear again, and he at once silently vowed to himself that henceforth he would never touch the coca leaves, treacherous as they had proven.
It was impossible now to disavow his last night's behavior, of course; nothing could be more insulting. If Jack liked to continue, as it seemed he did, Stephen could see little choice but to acquiesce. They would be sadly puzzled to hide the liaison from the world, and there were a great many arguments against the notion, but he had made his bed and would have to lie in it.
Strangely, this reflection did not fill him with great dismay; calmly resigned to his lot, he rose and went to the breakfast table: Jack was already pouring him coffee.
= End =