By Tim Mead
On a gray November Saturday morning Jesse sat looking out his window. The sound of the washing machine filled the small apartment.
A flush ran through his body when he thought of the previous night's sex. They'd done a 69, but they'd also simultaneously fingered each other's butt. Jesse clenched his sphincter and wiggled. His cock began to harden. He tried to ignore it, but he couldn't help looking forward to that night.
Ray was in Toledo until late afternoon, attending some kind of a workshop, so Jesse had decided to catch up on a few chores in his apartment. He'd probably study that afternoon. The idea of hitting the books on a Saturday would have filled the typical undergraduate mind with horror, but Jesse liked his courses.
At the moment, however, he was watching a couple of squirrels burying acorns. The leaves, he noticed, would have to be raked one last time before winter. He'd mention that to Ray, since the senior Stonesifers' leaves would also need to be done again.
His mind went back to the night in October when Ray had said, "I love you, babe."
He'd never reciprocated the statement. Ray hadn't said anything, but Jess felt guilty.
There was the question, of course: just what did Ray mean when he said he loved Jesse? Was it something blurted out on the spur of the moment, or was he saying he was in love with Jesse?
Ray was always laid back and considerate, easy to live with. He was a solicitous lover who seemed happy in their relationship. There'd been a bit of jealousy at first over Jesse's friendship with Casey, but a little jealousy wasn't necessarily a bad thing. And when Jesse assured Ray that he and Casey were only friends, Ray had appeared to accept it. So there seemed no reason to doubt that Ray really cared for him.
The bigger question was, did he love Ray? How could he know, since he'd never really loved anyone? Certainly not his mother who, truth to tell, was a selfish, controlling bitch. He'd had friends, but no lasting friendships. He'd been too much on the move. There'd been sex partners, but no relationships. Except for David, of course. That hadn't really been a relationship, though Jesse always felt a certain warmth when he thought of David. They'd had sex from time to time. David was good company, too. Thoughtful. Liked to read. Good conversationalist. But their parallel careers never allowed them more than occasional nights together. They'd never even discussed exclusivity. Still, David was more of a friend than anyone else he could think of. Except for Ray, of course. Besides, Jesse suspected that David was spending more and more time with that guy from the NYC Ballet, Raphael. Good luck with that one, sweet David!
But Ray? How did he feel about his red-headed lover?
There was no denying the sexual attraction. Not movie-star handsome, Ray was pleasant looking. His good looks were more the boy-next-door sort. But his body was amazing. There were, of course, the red hair, the skin so white it looked like marble . . . and the muscles. There were also his long, elegant feet and hands. Jesse had never considered himself a foot fetishist, but he'd have gladly sucked on Ray's toes if he hadn't feared Ray would think that was too weird. The dimples on either side of Ray's spine just above his ass crack begged to be licked. The first time Jesse had actually tongued those concavities Ray had giggled and asked him what the fuck he was doing. Now giving those spots their due was a prelude to sinking lower and addressing the rosebud, surrounded by its swirl of red hair.
Jesse adjusted his cock, which was once more stiffening.
The squirrels still worked busily below his window, though he paid them scant attention now.
Yes, he and Ray had a sexual relationship that was exciting, satisfying, and fulfilling.
Still, sexual compatibility wasn't love.
The spin cycle finished, so Jesse moved the load from the washer to the dryer. After emptying the carafe of coffee into his mug, he sat once again at the window.
He thought of how Ray worried his upper lip with his bottom teeth when something was on his mind. Of the tendency to blush when embarrassed or complimented which he shared with others of his coloration. Of the way his pillow smelled. Of his gratitude for the simplest thing Jesse would do for him.
Love or not, Ray was the best person who'd ever come into Jesse's life. And Jesse realized that he often looked for things to do for Jesse, of ways to make him more comfortable, happier.
A few days earlier Ray had suggested that when the leases on their apartments expired in the spring they should look for a house or a condo big enough for the two of them. That sounded as if Ray was ready to make a commitment, especially since he'd talked about buying rather than renting.
Big snowflakes began drifting lazily past the window. The weather gurus in Toledo had said there was a good chance that the snowbelt areas at the eastern end of Lake Erie would see some significant accumulation, but that that their area would probably escape this storm. Jesse wondered if Ray and Detective Persichetti, who'd gone to the workshop with him, would have nasty travelling on their way back to Colby.
When the dryer buzzed, he folded the underwear and socks and put them in his dresser. By then it was time for lunch.
He fixed himself a salad. He thought more about Ray as he ate. The snow continued to fall. In fact, it had picked up in intensity. He worried again about Ray's drive home. This was the first snowfall of the season. He and Ray had discussed Northwestern Ohio winters once or twice casually. Ray had said they knew how to take care of the roads and that getting around wasn't a problem, especially if you were used to the winters. Jesse hoped he was right.
After washing his plate and fork he got his books from his bag and sat again at the kitchen table.
But he couldn't concentrate on his studies. He kept thinking about Ray's suggestion that they get a place together.
It would, he had to admit, be nice to live with Ray all the time. At least he thought it would. He'd never had a roommate. But he liked the idea of going to bed with Ray . . . and waking up with him every morning. Chatting over supper every night, not just weekends.
But buying a place was another matter. They hadn't really discussed the idea seriously yet. Jesse felt he needed to remind Ray that in four year's he'd graduate and then, most likely, move on. True, he hadn't even chosen a major yet. But he'd never thought of remaining in Colby permanently. At this point, though he liked being away from the frenetic pace of the city, he wasn't sure he wanted to spend his life in this smallish university town in Ohio. And even if he did, what would he do for a living? What should he major in that would allow him to find a job – a satisfying job – here?
Still, having a place with Ray was a tempting idea. Perhaps it was a matter not so much of living happily ever after, which Jesse thought was for romances but seldom happened in real life, as it was of being happy for now.
Happy for now. Yes. What more could anyone ask?
He went to the bedroom, took his baggie of pot out of the dresser drawer and emptied it in the toilet.
Ray hadn't been too pleased about giving up a Saturday when he wasn't originally scheduled to work, but according to Havers the orders came straight from Captain Marlowe.
"He said you were to go. That you were just the man he wanted to be there. And he said since you and Persichetti were a, what was the term he used? De Facto. Yeah, that was it. He said you two were a de facto team and that you should go together."
Ray was puzzling about that when he realized Havers was still talking.
"Your lunch will be provided. The County is paying the costs of the workshop. And you can take one of the unmarked Impalas."
So Ray and Nick found themselves in a lecture auditorium at the University of Toledo, a room Ray remembered from a big intro to sociology class he'd taken as a freshman. He estimated about 100 people, mostly men, were in attendance.
The subject of the program was "Interface Between Local Law Enforcement Agencies and the ATF and FBI." There were coffee and donuts at a table in the back.
"Talk about your stereotypical thinking," he muttered to Persichetti.
Nick grinned. "Hey, these goodies are popular," he replied as he loaded up.
"Watch you don't go to sleep during the morning's lecture," he said, grinning back.
"Jab me in the ribs if I nod off. Was up late last night. Hot date!"
Ray tried not too successfully to frown at his colleague.
The guy from ATF was an interesting speaker. Part of his presentation was a Power Point demo, however, and Ray did indeed have to nudge Nick a couple of times during that. There was a lively question and answer session afterward, however, as jurisdictional issues vied with procedural ones in the discussion.
Everyone adjourned to a large room off a cafeteria in an adjacent building for a served lunch. The food was better than Ray remembered, and Nick seemed to enjoy it. They talked shop with the others at their table, who included a sergeant and a lieutenant from Findlay and a couple of deputies, one of them a good looking woman, from the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department. Nick mildly flirted with the female deputy until she managed to mention in passing that one of the problems with the job was being away from her husband and kids on weekends like this.
After lunch they all trooped back into the auditorium. As he waited for the afternoon portion of the program to begin, Ray realized the room was beginning to feel stuffy. Maybe I shouldn't have had that slice of lemon meringue pie. Geez, I hope I'm not the one who dozes off.
The Toledo Police Captain who was the introducer strode to the podium to present the afternoon's speaker, some guy from the FBI.
Ray read the printed program while the Toledo officer spoke. He was looking at the name and job of the guest speaker just as Captain whatever introduced him. It appeared that this Feebie was the new AC in the Toledo and Northwest Ohio Area.
"Please welcome Agent-in-Charge Barton McNamee."
Resting the program in his lap, Ray began to applaud politely. Then he did a double take, for there, shaking hands with Captain Whozit was none other than Spike! He was wearing a dark suit, white shirt, conservative tie, highly polished wingtips. And he'd shaved off his mustache and beard. But it was clearly the same guy.
Ray found it difficult to concentrate on what the AC was saying, even though he was interested in the information. He'd supposed that Marlowe's picking him to come to this workshop meant he might have to liaise with the ATF or the FBI should that ever become necessary. He felt a thrill of pride at that new responsibility. But Marlowe knew about him and Spike, so maybe he'd done it just as a way of showing Ray the Feeb was back in town.
He had trouble connecting the scruffy and very sexy bear who called himself "Spike" with the well-spoken, poised, confident, super-neat AC McNamee who strode back and forth across the stage as he talked.
During the Q & A session after the formal presentation, McNamee fielded questions with a sense of humor that didn't fit the stereotype of FBI agents as seen on television but which reminded Ray of the "Spike" he'd liked so much before he and Jesse were together.
All in all, it was a fascinating afternoon.
After he and Nick left the auditorium, a man about Ray's age in a dark suit approached them in the hallway.
"Sergeant Stonesifer, would you come with me, please?"
"What's this about? My partner and I are on our way back to Colby."
"This should only take a few minutes. Perhaps Detective Persichetti could wait here in the lobby for a few minutes." He looked apologetic. "I know it's pretty nasty to wait in the car, but I'm told this really won't take long."
"I'll wait for you in the lobby, Ray," Nick said.
Ray followed the man, obviously a Feeb, down a hallway. He stopped outside the door of a classroom, rapped on it twice, stepped inside and said, "Sergeant Stonesifer, sir."
It was a standard classroom, and Spike, or rather, Barton McNamee leaned against the teacher's desk. The other agent quietly stepped back into the hallway and closed the door.
McNamee straightened up, came toward Ray with his hand out. "Ray, it's good to see you. Did you get my letter?"
"Yes, I did."
"Are you seriously pissed with me?"
"I found out right after our second time together that you were FBI. I was pissed then. Everything you had told me was a lie. I felt used, I confess. But after I'd had a chance to think about it, I realized you couldn't tell me who you really were while you were under cover. Then when your letter came, you didn't include a return address and I didn't know your real name until today, so I didn't have any way to get in touch with you."
"Is the beautiful man I met in your apartment your lover?"
"Uh huh. Jesse Crofts. I think we have something good going on."
"Well, I don't want to keep you. I just wanted to say hello and apologize again."
"I know you can't talk much about your job, but I take it you've recently moved here from Cincinnati. Is this a promotion for you?"
"Supposedly, yes. As AC, I'll be handling mostly administrative chores."
"Will you have time for a social life?"
"I certainly hope so."
"Would you be willing to come to have dinner with Jesse and me sometime? You know where we live. And I'd, uh, like you guys to know each other."
"If Jesse wouldn't mind, I'd like that."
"Great. Now, AC McNamee, my associate is waiting for me, and we need to head back to Colby before the roads get any worse."
"In non-professional situations, I wish you'd call me Bart."
Ray grinned. "It's going to take me a long time to think of you as anything but Spike. But I'll try. . . Bart."
Bart surprised Ray by hugging him and slapping him on the back. "You and Jesse be happy." He stepped back and looked at Ray. "If he ever hurts you, I can make him wish he hadn't."
Ray chuckled. "I appreciate the thought, uh, Bart. But that's not likely to happen."
Bart handed Ray a card. "My home phone's written on the back. Stay in touch."
"Yeah, thanks. Will do." He offered his hand and they shook again. "Bart?"
"You clean up real good."
Bart laughed. "So do you, Ray."
Still feeling a bit dazed, Ray went to the lobby, which was empty except for an impatient-looking Persichetti. He was embarrassed that he was half hard from being with Spike. That is, Bart. He held the folder he'd brought for notes to hide his incipient stiffy.
He handed Persichetti the keys. "You drive."
In the car, Nick said, "What was that all about, or should I not ask?"
"I'd met AC McNamee when he was in this area on assignment last summer, and he just wanted to say hello."
Ray's tone of voice suggested that Nick had better not ask any more questions about that.
Ray had removed his gloves and was taking off his overcoat when Jesse came out of the bedroom to greet him. Wearing a gray long-sleeve tee under a navy short-sleeve tee, very faded and worn jeans, and gray socks, he looked delicious.
"What's wrong, babe? Tough day?"
"No, it's not that. It's just that you look so good!"
"And you look cold." Jesse gently took one of Ray's ears in each hand and just held them. He nuzzled Ray's nose for a moment. And then he gave Ray a most welcoming kiss.
Ray ground his now-hard cock into Jesse.
When the kiss was finished, Jesse stepped back, licked his lips and, doing his best Mae West impersonation, said, "You seem glad to see me, big boy."
"Can't help it. Those jeans might actually have fit when you were sixteen. You look like such a slut!"
Jesse arched an eyebrow, cocked his head, and said, "That's pretty much the effect I was going for."
"Let's go to bed."
"Don't you want a drink? Aren't you going to tell me about your day? How was the workshop? How were the roads? Aren't you hungry?"
"Shut up, Jess!" He grabbed Jesse's hand and pulled him into the bedroom.
Later, Jesse put on the clothes he'd been wearing. Ray pulled on sweats and warm socks.
"Now," Jesse said, "let's see about your other needs. I've got some of that sharp white cheddar you like. Do you want cab or beer with that?"
"Is the cab already open?"
"Yeah, it's been breathing for a while."
"I'll have some of that."
"Go sit down. I'll bring it."
"You don't need to do that."
"Don't argue. Just sit."
Jesse brought him the "seriously sharp" cheese he loved, a bowl with a variety of crackers, and a glass of cabernet.
"Relax, babe. I've got to see about supper."
"Something smells delicious. What is it?"
"Wait and see."
The living room in Ray's apartment was separated from the cooking area only by a bar, so he could watch his partner working over the stove. Wonderful smells were beginning to waft his way.
"Can I at least do the setups?"
"Nope. I got it covered."
The apartment supposedly had an eating area at the kitchen end of the living room, but he and Jesse usually sat on stools at the bar. We've got to get a bigger place, he thought.
As Jesse continued to work, Ray began to recognize the cooking aromas, which reminded him of home.
After drinking about half of his wine and eating several pieces of cheese perched on crackers, Ray began to relax. He put up the footrest of the recliner and closed his eyes.
"Okay, babe. I think we can eat now."
"Huh? Did I doze off?"
"Yeah, but that's okay." Jesse grinned and ran his hand through Ray's hair. "Can you come now while everything's hot?"
When he sat on one of the stools at the bar, their plates were already served with pork chops, home fries, and green beans. Ray speared a couple of beans on his fork, inspected them carefully, and then ate them.
"My God, Jess, these are just like my mom's." Most people seemed to like green beans crunchy. Ray had always liked his cooked soft, the way his mother did them. And Jesse's beans even had that special taste of his mother's.
Jesse grinned. "I had a talk with Shirley this afternoon. She told me you and your dad liked beans cooked to death. And seasoned with bacon drippings."
Ray noticed that there were no beans on Jesse's plate.
Since they were sitting side by side, he turned, put a hand behind Jesse's head, pulled him forward, and kissed him.
"You're too much, Jess."
Batting his eyes, Jesse said, "Aw, shucks! `Tweren't nothing."
Ray ate his supper appreciatively. When they'd finished and cleared up the kitchen, Jesse said, "There's ice cream for later. But why don't we just have some coffee now and you can tell me how your day went."
So, over coffee in the living room, Ray explained about seeing Spike, aka Barton McNamee.
"How do you feel about that?"
Ray grinned. "You sound like a shrink."
"Sorry. Didn't mean to. But I think I'm entitled to an answer."
Ray took a deep breath. Expelled it. "I was surprised to see him. He looks different from the way he looked when I knew him last summer." He wished he hadn't put it just that way: it sounded so Biblical. "Interesting to know what his real name is."
"But, Jess, man, you gotta know something."
"He's nothing for you to worry about. He's not my guy. You are."
"Thanks, babe. I think I knew that, but it's good to hear you say it." He paused. "The problem is that now what I had intended to say to you will sound like I'm feeling insecure about McNamee."
"I'll take your word for it that you're not. And I'll say again you don't need to be."
"Okay." Jesse took a sip of his coffee and set the mug on the coffee table.
"So, go on. What is it you wanted to tell me?"
"I did a lot of thinking this morning."
"I wish we could be together every night, not just weekends. So I like your idea that when our leases are up we should look for a place together."
Ray got out of the recliner and came to sit next to Jesse. "That's great, Jess! Are you sure?"
"Yeah. As I said, I thought about it a lot. Being together is the main reason, but we could also do some entertaining. We could have friends over for dinner sometime. If we had a balcony we could grill outside in the summer."
"Maybe we could find a little house instead of an apartment."
"Then we'd have a yard to take care of."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing, I suppose. It just popped into my mind."
They talked about where they might want to live. A place in Higgins would cost less, but there would be the expense of both of them driving – on different schedules -- back and forth to Colby. Did they really prefer a house to an apartment? Ray raised the idea again of buying rather than renting. Jesse seemed a little hesitant but finally said he'd consider it.
"We have six months to think about it, babe," Ray reminded him.
When the discussion wound down, Jesse said, "I picked up mint chocolate chip ice cream at Kroger's."
"Oh, cool! My favorite."
They went to the kitchen, where Jesse dished up the ice cream. He squirted chocolate syrup on Ray's.
They took their bowls and sat together on the sofa.
As they were eating the ice cream, Ray said, "Jess, you've done a lot of things to pamper me this evening. What did I do to deserve the special treatment?"
Jesse leaned over and licked Ray's ear. Then he whispered, "That's what you do for people you love."
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