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"You can tear a log apart with brute force, if you're strong enough," Benton's father said. "Or you can put in a little time upfront to use your mind. Understand the way trees grow, the structure of the wood -- observe your particular piece, learn the shape of the grain -- find just the right place to put the wedge --"
He tapped the wedge carefully into a great round of tree trunk, nearly as big around as Benton was tall. "Hit it here, son. No need for force. Aim carefully. Swing straight."
Benton raised the heavy sledge, chose his angle carefully, and let it fall. He wasn't strong enough to add much more force than what its own weight provided.
The head hit the wedge squarely, with a sound and vibration that he would come to recognize as signaling a clean, well-aimed blow. It moved the wedge a precise half-inch down toward the heart of the wood.
"Again," his father said, and, "Again." And then Benton jumped back as the log fell at his feet, cleanly split in two pieces.
"Elementary law of mechanics, son," his father said. "It's the same with a fight, the same with a confrontation. Choose your first blow wisely, and sometimes it's the only one you'll need."
Ray sleeps restlessly, twitching and jerking. The late-afternoon sun stripes his back, his thighs, his still-wet hair. Fraser, who would have to be a great deal more tired than this to be able to sleep in the afternoon, props his head on his hand and prevents himself from waking him.
Ray showered to wash off the sweat and gunpowder and then staggered directly to bed; by the time Fraser finished his own shower, Ray was sound asleep, with scattered drops of water still slowly drying on his shoulders.
They've been lovers for four months, and this is the first time Fraser has seen Ray entirely naked.
Sex with Ray is not unlike wrestling. Fraser used to dream of long and slow -- of having the chance to taste the backs of Ray's knees and the nape of his neck, of discovering new erogenous zones in the hot, dry skin of Ray's back and sides, of long minutes buried inside him, rocking him to climax by infinitesimal degrees, watching his face relax and his eyes go distant as the pleasure lapped higher wave by wave.
He's still dreaming of it.
Ray is ravenous for him, wild in a way that calls out Fraser's own wildness, and they bite and grasp and shove, ten minutes of fiery groping to a climax that's like a gut-punch, knocking both of them through pleasure and into unconsciousness. It's deeply arousing, this violent need they create in each other, but it leaves Fraser longing for slower, deeper passion.
Ray will enjoy Fraser's caresses for a minute or so, and tolerate them for a minute longer, and after that, nothing can hold him back.
Now Fraser is almost literally feasting his eyes; Ray's skin makes his mouth water. Ray's arms and shoulders and thighs are lean and strong, his calves knotted, his feet as slim and delicately articulated as his hands. There's a small tattoo under the lower curve of his left shoulder blade, the number six picked out shakily in blue ballpoint ink. A story to look forward to.
His backside invites Fraser's hands; the valley of his spine whispers to Fraser's tongue.
Ray gives an irritable twitch, and his stomach growls. He'll be waking soon. Fraser bends his head and kisses the back of Ray's neck.
"Mm. Frsr," Ray mumbles as Fraser tastes his neck and shoulder, and his jerky movements stop; he's more relaxed awake than asleep. Fraser kisses the knob at the top of Ray's spine and licks his way downward, slowly. Ray shifts beneath him in a way Fraser recognizes as making room for a growing erection; Fraser takes this as license to rub his own luxuriously against the back of Ray's thigh.
"Fraser," Ray says, sounding more awake. "Here, let me --"
"No," Fraser says.
Ray makes a move to turn over, and Fraser presses hard on the back of his shoulder, pinning him down. It's only when Ray draws a fast breath that Fraser realizes what he's done, but Ray doesn't seem to mind being immobilized; he pushes back experimentally, and when Fraser doesn't immediately let him up, he flops back down. "OK," he mutters, "OK, yeah, do me like this."
"Yeah," Fraser breathes against his back.
When he doesn't immediately move to get the bottle from the drawer, Ray reaches out his arm for it, but he doesn't have enough mobility to reach the drawer. Fraser bites the back of his neck, and he shivers and sighs, but his arm reaches out again.
"Gettin' older here, Fraser."
"It would be very strange if you weren't," Fraser says.
At the small of Ray's back, the downy hair grows pale but thick. Fraser lies down between Ray's legs and begins to brush light kisses over that spot, and Ray says, "Ohh."
He isn't fleshy, as Fraser is, but the curves of his buttocks fit pleasingly in Fraser's palms. Fraser brushes his thumbs inward along the lower edges, kissing downward along Ray's spine, until his tongue and both thumbs converge, and Ray abruptly goes silent.
Fraser licks him.
Ray's fists clench in the sheets, and his hips lift, pushing against Fraser's mouth. "Gross, Fraser," he says, but he says it panting. Fraser does it again, and he hisses.
Fraser hasn't done this before, to anyone, though he's imagined it obsessively. He knows it's supposed to feel very good.
Ray appears to enjoy it. He shoves and twitches and thrusts against the sheets, and then Fraser begins to lick seriously, all wet soft tongue, and Ray goes limp so fast that it's almost as if he's fainted, except for his voice, which is saying, "God, god, god," in a drunken sort of sigh. "God, god, yes, you can do anything you want, please, please --"
Fraser puts his tongue in Ray, and Ray falls to pieces.
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Back to in medias Res
May 25, 2005