by Jane Davitt

Callen's finger traced random patterns over Sam's chest, reminding him of a dancing red light on Callen's forehead earlier. For one sickening moment, common sense lost in panic, Sam had thought that he was looking at Callen for the last time before his head exploded, blood and brains and --

"Stay with me," Callen said and dug a fingernail into Sam's left nipple, which hurt enough to distract him from images that could just fucking wait for his next nightmare. "That's better."

Sam narrowed his eyes. "Yeah? How about I do it to you and you tell me how good it feels?"

"Actually, it looked painful, so I'd prefer it if you didn't." Callen licked his lips, a swift pass of tongue that looked oddly indecisive for him. Sam braced himself. "We nearly died today."

"Came close," Sam admitted. "We're still here, though."

"Yeah…" Callen's fingertip went back to moving in meaningless paths around Sam's chest, tickling it pleasantly and then crossing the line into too much of a good thing. Sam liked being touched by Callen in the same way that as a kid, he'd liked holding a balloon, never quite sure when it would pop. Callen could stroke and caress him until Sam felt like purring -- not that he would, ever, but it was how he felt -- and then turn moody and withdrawn a moment later, or wild and demanding, leaving Sam's skin stinging from bites and scratches that were fun to get at the time, not so much later in the shower. Soap stung, too.

Callen. The guy was changeable. Sam didn't mind; they were surface changes, wind on the waves; deep down, Callen and him were solid.

"We're supposed to fuck," Callen said out of nowhere. "It's traditional at times like this. Required, even. Life-affirming."

Sam chuckled. "Is that right."

"Fuck like horny hares."


"Now I'm picturing the Easter Bunny and it's weird."

"We can fuck like any hoppy little animal you like," Sam said generously.

Callen eased in closer, his arms going around Sam, holding him tight. "No, this is good."

Sam closed his eyes. Yeah. Another hour or so and maybe they'd both stop shaking enough to deal with zippers and the slippery top of the lube and the stiff foil of a condom, but right now, in this quiet, dim room, this was all that they needed. Always was.

"Do I remind you of a sloth?" Callen said in his ear, jerking him out of a doze.

"If that makes me the tree branch in this relationship, leading to lots of comments about wood that won't be as funny as you think they are, then no."

"You always think you're two steps ahead of me, don't you?"

Sam kissed Callen's forehead in his own version of Morse code, where a kiss meant a whole lot more than he felt comfortable saying in clear, and listened to Callen babble bullshit; his own personal lullaby.

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