The hallway was a long corridor of empty walls and plain wooden doors, pristine and quiet. Thomas rubbed the back of his neck and slowed his pace in a futile effort to muffle his footsteps. Thick dust covered his shoes and two books were heavy weights in his pocket, pulling his jacket askew and lending further to a general look of disrepute. He should probably care about the state of his person; Thomas could almost hear his mother sighing at him and asking where she went wrong. But the chill had seeped into his bones and at this point in time, he could care less about what he looked like. He had spent yet another morning buried in boxes and stacks of hastily bundled paper hidden in the furthest depths of the basement, but he had the feeling that today his discoveries had made it all worth it.
His destination was at the very end of the hallway, just beyond a heavily aged and engraved door. He stopped in front of it and reached out a hand to brush finger tips along the flora that hid strange and fantastical creatures. The latch was warm in his hands as he pushed open the door. He stepped into the Old Library and stopped for a moment in the doorway to allow the full impact of the room to wash over him. The room never failed to to inspire awe.
A huge vaulted ceiling soared over the largest collection of books he had ever seen. The walls were covered in overflowing bookshelves with books of various colors crammed into every available surface. Small arrangements of tables and chairs were hidden from view by even more bookshelves jutting out from the wall. Some of the shelves supported walkways that were scattered about the room, ending in small balconies and alcoves. It was easy to get lost within the shelves; the room was full of twisting paths that branched and rejoined again almost haphazardly.
The collection of books were a treasure, however the room contained something else of interest to Thomas: each and every window was made of stained glass contained within curled and ornate wrought iron. This building was famous for the huge rose window overlooking the river, but Thomas was more curious about the windows hidden from casual sight, windows that could only be found by taking just the right path through the shelves.
Thomas stood in the doorway and breathed in the smell of old paper and leather binding. He could feel his shoulders relax under the warmth of the sunlight streaming in through the large rose window. The floor was faded and worn wood, carefully waxed but only sporadically cleaned. Each step stirred up a fine layer of dust that danced and shimmered in the colored light. Midway down the corridor, there was a small mahogany desk that was lit by a window of reeds in a pond. Here he took the books out of his pocket to set them on the desk before stripping off his justacorps and waistcoat.
There was a large desk of writing supplies out under the rose window and there he lingered in the sunlight, fiddling with quills and paper. The sun warmed him quickly through his shirtsleeves. When he could finally feel his fingers again, he flexed them a couple of times before gathering up his papers and chosen quill. A pot of ink was the last supply to pick up but he hesitated, fingers lightly wrapped around the glass.
What if he was wrong? Although he had been so certain that this was the book he was looking for, he wondered if it was just desperation to get out the cold. He sighed and picked up the ink pot before walking slowly back to the table. He straightened the stack of papers and placed the ink and pen just so before pulling the chair up. He rolled up his sleeves carefully before sitting down and gently pulling the book towards the center of the desk.
The binding of the book was beautifully done: a dark red leather decorated with the gold foil that was only flaking off in a couple of places. There was nothing on the spine to indicate what it was, and indeed the entire book looked like a hundred others. He had nearly set the book aside. However, his thumb had brushed across the edge of the book and caused him to take a second look; he found that half of the pages were edged with gold and the remainder were slightly ragged. The book had been very carefully and neatly rebound in the distant past, a difficult enough undertaking that was only done when it contained information of importance.
Thomas finally opened the book and marveled at how there was nary a creak. The bible was handwritten in surprising clear script. The ink was only faintly blurred at the edges and the pages were faintly yellowed. Otherwise, there were no other signs of damage. He carefully turned pages, delighting at the small images inked into corners and decorated letters at the beginning of each new passage. He held his breath as he turned the last gold-edged page.
There it was.
He sighed and slumped back in his chair, suddenly feeling weary with relief. He let his head roll back against the chair and his hands fall into his lap, nearly laughing from the elation. All of his effort had not been for nothing, for here, spreading out across a page that folded out from the book, was the beginning of a family lineage spreading out like the tangled roots of a great tree. It was done in an older hand, script spidery from age but still sure. He held his breath as he turned the pages. After the family tree was page upon page of history: birth dates, deaths, and marriages. Page upon page of not only a family history but what appeared to be the dry history of an entire town.
Lady Colm would be pleased and very pleasantly surprised. If he remembered correctly, some of the names on the family tree would not only permanently establish her heritage, it would extend it further back than expected. He rued the notes he had left back at his room; there was something familiar about the name of the mayor listed near the beginning of the tree. He tapped his finger on the name a couple of times, casting his thoughts about in the hopes that the information would float to the surface. He leaned back in his chair as it stubbornly remained just out of reach, ignoring the ominous creaking from the chair legs.
Simon was looking for a book when the scraping of a chair being pulled out caught his attention. There was an older man seated at one of the tables down below him on the main floor. He paused his search in surprise; it was uncommon to see another person in the Old Library. His sandy brown hair was carelessly pulled back and both his justacorps and waistcoat were thrown over a nearby chair. The gentlemen had his sleeves rolled up to reveal strong, tanned arms; he had stripped down as if in his own private study.
Just the sight of him was enough to make Simon’s heart pound.
He had seen the gentleman before in the front lobby, clothing covered in dust only thoughtlessly brushed at. Tall and lanky, the gentleman moved with a confidence and surety that even his loose clothing couldn’t disguise. But it was his hands that Simon remembered; hands that picked up books reverently before opening them and immediately becoming absorbed no matter where he was. When really interested, his thumb would gently rub the corners of pages. Other times he would tap long fingers on the closed book while staring off into the distance.
Simon blushed and cursed his brain as the thought of what those hands would feel like touching him rose unwanted from the sudden silence in his mind. He was here to escape from other people, not to entertain fantasies that could never come true. He should have known that those poetry books Robin had handed to him were a bad idea, especially after the impish look she had given him when he accepted them. Simon had to admit to himself that he did not hand them back, even after figuring out what was contained within. He would not admit to anyone was that the verses were hidden in a drawer next to his bed.
He pulled a history book off the shelf he had stopped in front of, hoping it was close to what he was looking for, and tucked it under his arm before quickly turning to slip back around the corner. He strode through winding paths and up the coiling staircase to a section of the room hidden away from prying eyes. He set the book down on the small writing desk before moving over to the railing on the edge of the balcony.
Though difficult to see from the main floor, the balcony afforded a view of a large sections of the library. He could no longer see anyone and the library had settled into silence. He dismissed the gentleman from his mind in favor of a more reasonable puzzle. He looked to the other side of the room where another set of stairs seemed to appear from nowhere and disappear just as quickly. The mystery was beginning to eat away at him; so far he had not even figured out how to get to the stairs, never mind start working out where they went.
The library was a lovely place, full of fascinating books, but he only came here in desperation. There was only one thing that made his constant retreats here bearable: an enormous tree made of glass and iron that cast its flickering colored shadows in the early afternoon. The window was hidden between two vaults and could only be seen from the balcony. He sat on the edge of the railing and closed his eye, letting the light trick his mind into believing he was back under the canopy of old oak leaves.
As he leaned back in the chair, still mulling over why the mayor’s name seemed so familiar, a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye caught Thomas’ attention. It was unusual to see anyone else here, especially without a librarian to help guide their search. But there on the opposite side of the room, up on one of the balconies on the second floor, he could just make out a leg clad in grey breeches round the corner. He took a moment to admire the view. The pants were just tight enough to see the hint of powerful muscles smoothly moving with each step. The riding boots his mystery person wore were polished to a dull sheen that could not mask heavy wear.
For a moment, he was struck by a wave of wistful homesickness. This time of year, he should be helping getting the horses used to plows again after a long winter. His family had never believed in letting others do the work just to mess up the details.
He looked at the fading tan on his arms and sighed. He loved the research he was doing now, loved the travel and the people, the books and the libraries. He had dove into it with a speed that had even startled him, after spending so many years working around his father’s estate. When he was younger, he was guaranteed to be found outdoors. It took a series of blizzards locking him in to induce him to step into the family library. But it was like a whole other world had opened up that he had been waiting for his whole life.
In a way, he was a little disappointed with his father’s gruff statement that the family understood, that he was not expected to come home this spring. He understood; as the third son and the only one not married, there really was no need for him back on the estate, other than as another set of hands in a sea of people. But as much as he loved the calm of the library, the memory of past springs called to him: the smell of the forest, the ways the horses would dance in anticipation of a good run, the thunder of hooves on the forest path as he rode to check on the start of another field.
He blinked, then turned regretfully back to his research. There was no use for wishes now. He was happy with his life, he reminded himself, even if no one else could understood his decisions. No one realized how much freedom it allowed him, how much time he could be outdoors and speaking to anyone he wished without worries of what was right and proper.
The other book was an old diary written when the library was being constructed. Although it was not directly related to his task, Lady Robin would appreciate the extra information about this huge building that was her inheritance. The diary appeared to focus on the branch of the building that the Old Library was located in, and he had hopes that maybe it contained floor plans. The other books he had found had certainly given him a better appreciation of the renovations and expansions the building had gone through over the years, but there was a distinct lack of information on the original part of the building. It was almost as if the information was deliberately being excluded. The mystery of it was enough to pull him back into the world of words from the past.
The books on the shelf were compressed so tightly together that the only way to get the book out would be to tip it down from the top. It was frustrating, seeing his finger tips so close to the top of the book’s spine and yet not quite there. Simon stepped back with a huff to look again, taking a moment to wish he could take off more than just his justacorps. It was not unusually hot in the library, but at the moment it feel like a fever was lurking just under his skin.
He had been searching for this collection for a week now; to be stymied again made him struggle to choke back the simmering anger that had been building for hours. Simon closed his eyes and breathed deep. He rubbed his forehead, hoping to push back the headache forming by sheer willpower alone.
Recently all of his frustrations had been bleeding together. His temper was to the point that most people were scrambling to get out of his way upon one look at his face. He would try once again, then attempt to find a ladder. He had seen one or two during the search earlier today, but of course they were nowhere near by.
He was reaching again, stretching up on his toes, when the smell of cinnamon and coffee overrode the smell of paper. A deep voice rumbled at his back, “Need some help?”
That voice at a distance gave him small shivers. He had no idea that those shivers would be instead a shudder at close distance. It washed through him, running invisible fingers down his spine and making his toes curl.
All of the anger disappeared in shock and slight panic as an arm reached past his shoulder. Simon could not move without brushing up against him. He cursed the blush that had to be burning up the back of his neck and tried desperately to think of something, anything else only to come up with nothing. Upon seeing that large hand get so close to his own, he hurriedly rocked back onto his heels.
And (oh god) instead of hands touching, all he could feel was warmth on his back as they pressed close from chest to hips. It was all so improper. They were both so improper wandering around this library only in their shirtsleeves. He tried to take a deep breath but it stalled in his throat. He felt muscles shift against his back as the book was tipped down into his numb fingers.
This was why he had been so frustrated. Be honest with yourself, he berated. This was why nothing could keep his attention for long. Ever since that first glimpse of him in shirt sleeves, Simon saw the gentleman everywhere. Every time, every time, his damn traitorous brain came up with new and creative ways to redo his hair and neaten up his clothing, just to take it all off again.
Thomas cringed; he really shouldn’t have done that. The dark hair in front of him was not long enough to hide the blush creeping out from under the cravat to turn the tips of his ears red.
Looking down, Thomas knew exactly who had been haunting his dreams: Lord Simon of Doire, esteemed member of the Peerage.
Lord Simon always seemed to catch his eye, standing tall and proud and so solemn surrounded by the antics of the rest of the court. He had seen Lord Simon before at functions, surrounded by brightly dressed women or standing attendance on his father. The women whispered about his brooding good looks and the men muttered about his sharp head for business. Thomas always lounged briefly in the corners before escaping into the night. Even if he was only a third son, he was still expected to show up to the seasons biggest gatherings.
He had turned the corner to see Lord Simon standing in a stream of golden sunlight from a stained glass window. The light had softened the stark black of his outfit and made him look so touchable that Thomas just couldn’t restrain himself from stepping in closer. The smell of wind and moss and dirt was buried in Simon’s wind tangled hair; he must have come to the library immediately after riding. It was in sharp contrast to his neat and precise cravat. Thomas barely checked the impulse to bury his nose in the soft looking hair.
He let go of the book and stepped back a little ashamed at how the book was gripped so tightly in a near white knuckled grip. The wide eyes staring up at him were full of a heat and he had felt the shudder when they had touched but…
There was a shadow the flitted behind the heat and he was afraid that he was the cause of it. Simon had been a constant companion over the last week and yet Thomas had only seen bits of him when movement caught his eye. It had almost become a game to see if he could catch sight of Simon before Thomas was seen and thus avoided. His excitement at getting so close betrayed his common sense.
Thomas stepped back a couple steps to let him pass, wishing he hadn’t been such an impulsive fool. He bowed and was turning to leave when a voice spoke up from behind him.
“Would you like to join me, sir…?” Lord Simon faced him with a resolute expression that was at odds with the book clenched at his side. His voice was composed and gave no hint of the panic his hands betrayed.
Thomas was impressed at how quickly the blush had faded, although there was still a faint hint of a blush dusted across his checks. “Thomas,” He gave an easy grin. “Please, just call me Thomas.”
He decided daring hadn’t failed him so far and continued with, “Yes, thank you. May I have to pleasure of your name?”
Simon looked to the side before slowly answering, “Simon. You may call me Simon.”
Thomas quickly found the book he came to the section for, thanking his lucky stars that he needed a book in this section. Simon waited for Thomas to turn and catch his eye before he turned and walked away.
Thomas walked behind a few steps, admiring Simon from behind as he followed him to the table. It took a moment to filter through the lovely view but he was soon distracted by the suspicion that Simon was limping a little. Not enough to be obvious but the slightest of hesitations and a stiff knee gave him away. Closer observation revealed patches of dust and even a faint grass stain on Simon’s elbow.
Thomas sat down at the table across from Simon, crossing his legs and leaning back in order to watch him carefully. Simon sat down slowly, sitting so rigidly straight that Thomas could only guess at what kind of pain he was in. A riding accident? He thought a moment, but in the end discarded the idea; there would have been more damage to his clothing. The bruise beginning to develop across a high cheek bone also implied a more physical altercation.
“Are you all,” he started, but didn’t dare finish when Simon glared at him. That was a dare he would not take.
Instead, Thomas did what he was best at. He kept up a soothing stream of stories designed to simply entertain and distract. It took two stories of the history of Lady Colm’s family jewelry before the rigidly straight posture relaxed and Simon sighed a little before leaning back in his chair. Inwardly, Thomas sighed as well and settled further into his own chair. Although Simon was obviously favoring his left side, he was not showing any signs of discomfort from sitting in the chair, so Thomas continued to speak. He was enjoying himself more than expected. Simon was an attentive listener, not interrupting but nodding his head slightly or smiling slightly when he found something particularly entertaining.
He launched into one of his most popular stories with gusto, book laid forgotten on the table in front of him. Most people enjoyed hearing how he fell into matchmaking while searching for the building diaries of the library. He was pleasantly surprised when Simon instead began questioning him on the content of the diaries instead, revealing a thirst for knowage that matched Thomas’.
Thomas leaned forward unconsciously, excited to finally have someone to talk about his pet project with. “This building has a long and fascinating history. Most parts of it has been burned down at least four times. This branch is the only remaining part of the original structure, although I have not discovered how much of it has been repaired. I have found the building diaries from time period of the first three Lord Colms, including a diary dating from before building had even started. So far all of the books have been in remarkable condition! One was barely wrapped under the staircase, if you can believe that. Another one was covered in soot and,” He stopped and set his quill down, unsure of when he had picked it up to use it for emphasis. “Pardon, this must be very boring for you.”
Simon looked at him in confusion. “No, please go on.”
“The most recent diary that I have found was written by the third Lord Colm. It was right after yet another fire had demolished over three quarters of the building. His commentary on what he planned for originally is especially interesting. He was the one to commission many of the windows in here.” Thomas’ voice was wistful as he continued, “He would sketch some of his ideas in the corners of pages. Lovely little designs. I have even found some pages that appear to be final layouts for windows. Most of the windows here on the main floor look be be more recent replacements but I have found one that looks like one of the third Lord Colm’s designs. I am hoping to find more. Most people are pretty closed-mouthed about the buildings around here so I have been searching through the basement, looking for the original floor plans.” Thomas snorted, “Hell, I’m still looking for any floor plans. I was able to look briefly at current official plans but there appears to be a lot of inconsistencies.”
Simon looked up and visibly hesitating before offering, “I might be able to get some more information for you.” He held up a hand in warning, “I can not guarantee that I can give you the information.”
“Thank you, ” Thomas replied, stunned by the generosity of the offer. The town was beautiful, full of old buildings and gardens, but the library had caught his attention as soon as he saw it. Beyond the craftsmanship and beauty was a mystery that no one would explain to him. Every question asked made people so uneasy that he gave up asking. He claimed all of his reading was related to Lady Colm, although truth be told he had nearly all that she had requested. He hoped she would forgive him for the subterfuge.
Simon shrugged, a strangely elegant raise of one shoulder, before asking, “Could you please pass me some paper?”
Thomas passed over the paper and his quill and was stunned to see a rudimentary floor plan emerge under Simon’s careful hands. Simon had a neat and steady hand. His drawing reflected that with its exact angles and precise proportions. Although there were blank spaces scattered throughout the map, it revealed an extensive knowledge of the Old Library. The addition of small sketches along the edges, detailing the stained glass windows located, turned the map into something priceless.
Simon flushed a little and stopped drawing when he looked up at Thomas’ face. “It is not much. Someone showed me much of this when I first came here.”
“If you insist,” Thomas replied before coaxing Simon to talk more of the library and the other old buildings in town.
Simon was a wealth of information. Thomas hoped that his notes were legable for tomorrow. He didn’t wish to look down at the paper and miss the way that colored bits of light traveled across Simon’s surprisingly expressive face. Simon was very self contained but was gradually relaxing in his company. He used his hands to illustrate what he was talking about with small gestures that sketched gracefully through the air. His blush has mostly disappeared, although it would dust across his cheeks anytime Thomas looked him directly in the eye. The intricately tied cravat bobbed slightly when Simon swallowed. Thomas could not help but noticed every move he made. He shifted in his chair and looked to his notes, trying to ignore the blush that was threatening to appear on his own face.
Simon looked up with a small expectant smile as the chair was pulled back from the table they had been using the last two weeks.
They had tried to pretend to be meeting on accident, but they both knew that they had rearranged their schedules in order to spend more time in the library. After the first couple of instances, Thomas shamefacedly admitted that he would sit someplace where Simon could easily find him, and perhaps they would like to choose one location to meet? It drew a small huff of laughter from Simon before he agreed and recommended a well lit alcove up on the second floor. They had meet there ever since.
Surrounded by a maze of books and hazy colored light, they would start working seperately before inevitably someone would start a conversation that would last for hours. Any work that was started was always eventually set aside. Simon found that he looked forward to the stimulating conversations as he went about his day. Interspersed throughout were comfortable silences that allowed Simon to wind down even as it seemed to highlight the flicker of heat that he felt whenever their eyes met.
Thomas’ hand gripped the back of the chair tightly. ”I received a letter from my mother,” was the unexpectedly somber statement.
Simon could only blink in surprise up at him before Thomas slid smoothly into his seat. He set his book down and carefully marked his page before folding his hands on the table.
“Nothing was said directly, but… I can’t shake the feeling that something has gone very wrong.” Thomas ran his hands down his face and closed his eyes for a moment before looking Simon straight in the eye; he was always so forthright. “I am leaving tonight.”
Simon’s heart sank in his chest as he took a good look at Thomas. There were bruises under his eyes and, though his hair was never all that carefully done, it was tousled in a way that spoke of constant fingers running through it.
There had been brief mentions that Thomas’ time here was limited and eventually a project would force him to research elsewhere. But it had always seemed like a faint shadow on the horizon that was easily ignored in favor of a false security that their time alone in the library encouraged.
“Come with me,” Simon reached a hand out to Thomas urgently and pulled him away from the table. Simon was relieved that Thomas did not ask any questions. He had been torn recently. He was very aware that he had not been totally honest with the map that he had drawn from Thomas. When Thomas opened the diary to the window design he was looking for, he was shocked to realize he recognized it.
He strode towards the spiral staircase and tried to ignore the rush of excitement. They had not touched since that dizzying moment when they’d been pressed front to back. Thomas’ hand was warm and held firmly onto Simon’s.
Thomas kept pace easily with him, long legs stretching out before him to eat up the ground. Simon glanced at him and hoped that it would not be a mistake to show some one else his last remaining hiding place. He pulled Thomas around a large sculpture that partially blocked a small hallway leading to the stairs.
He stood back as Thomas walked to the edge of the balcony, eyes only for the window in front of them.
Thomas could only stare in awe. In front of him was a stained glass window of a tree with brilliant emerald leaves reaching up to the sun. Thomas could only wonder at why anyone would want to hide beauty like this. It had often been referred to in the third Lord Colm’s journal but the last time it was mentioned was when it had been rejected by the head architect for being too difficult.
He looked down at Simon and could only ask, “How did you find this?”
Simon glanced up at him before tightening his grip and taking a deep breath. “I first saw it when I was out riding on the hill overlooking the river. It took me a few months to find. I come up here when I need to hide,” he confessed, “and have not shown anyone else since finding it.” He trailed off, feeling unsure of himself for the first time in Thomas’ presence.
“Only you,” Simon whispered. He took strength from the look in Thomas’ eyes at the statement. One step got him close enough to feel the heat radiating from the tense body in front of him. He closed his eyes, breathed in, and then relaxed his shoulders and reached for Thomas.
At first it was just a dry brush of lips, chaste and testing. It felt natural to tentatively brush the tip of his tongue across Thomas’ lips. A shiver raced down his spine at the feeling; he wanted more. He stood on his toes to get closer, to make it easier to slowly slide his tongue against Thomas’. Thomas’ breath hitched as Simon continued to kiss him.
Simon tentatively let his hands reach up to touch silky hair. Simon had often been driven to distraction in the past with want of fixing it. Strange that instead he tunneled his fingers in the cool strands to pull Thomas’ head closer, uncaring of the tangled mess he was making.
Thomas’ hands were warm where they pressed against the small of his back. The idle sweep of his thumb distracted Simon and he nipped lightly at Thomas’ bottom lip in revenge. Thomas made a soft, husky sound at that. Then his warm hands began to tug insistently at Simon’s shirt where it was tucked into his breeches. Simon thought for a brief moment that maybe he should help, but the thought drifted away as those large hands swept a path up his side, leaving behind a wake of shivers.
Simon broke the kiss and threw his head back, gasping for breath, before he pulled Thomas away from the railing. Thomas’ nimble fingers were quickly undoing his shirt buttons and the faint, barely there touches through fabric were driving Simon crazy. As much as one part of him wanted to protest the feeling of things sliding out of control, he wanted these wildfire feelings even more. Thomas impatiently pushed his shirt to the side. There was only a second of cool air before calloused hands were smoothing their way up his sides once again.
Thomas broke the kiss to nip at Simon’s lower lip as he scraped nails down sensitive sides. Simon could only grab at Thomas’ shoulders and hold on as his knees threatened to give away. There was a low laugh before bookshelves were pressing against his back and hips were pinning him in place.
The shock of pressure against his groin made Simon buck into the body leaning into him. Pressed so close together, he felt Thomas’ moan as if it was his own. He twisted his fingers into the fabric that covered the skin he so badly wanted to get at.
He did not know what he would have done if Thomas’ clever fingers had not just untied the knot at his throat and slowly pulled the fabric away. Never before had he been so aware of the smooth feeling of silk and the whisper of sound it made moving against itself. The intense look on Thomas’ face made his breath catch as Thomas leaned back and looked hotly at him for a moment, running the long silk through thoughtful fingers.
“Next time,” he promised, “next time we will do this right.”
Then hot kisses were pressed to his jaw, his throat, and the sudden shock of teeth on his pulse pulled a moan from him. A warm tongue swiped over the mark as if in apology before suction made him arch his back. He tilted his head to the side, welcoming the lightning that streaked down his spine.
Thomas could not remember how many times he had nearly lost track of the conversation due to his daydreams of what was hidden by neat and precise knots of fabric. To finally have removed it, to have his lips on exposed skin, excited him beyond his imagination. It was better than he had thought; the blood pulsing under his lips, breathy moans reverberating as Simon tried to stifle the noises. He wanted to remember this forever: the taste of salt on his tongue, smell of woods in his nose, and hard body warm and straining against him. Hands tangled in his hair and Simon was being careful, so careful, but the small tugging at his hair sent pleasant little shocks down his spine.
He had to break the kiss for desperately needed air when Simon rolled his hips against him. Thomas wrapped his arms around Simon and tucked his face in Simon’s neck, overwhelmed. They were both breathing hard and Thomas knew he should pull back, to give them both some space to think.
Thomas couldn’t stop himself from brushing small kisses on Simon’s neck. It felt like his heart was going to explode. All of a sudden, every sense was heightened: the sharp press of the shelves against his arms, the slight breeze cooling the back of his neck, the quiet shifting of floor boards under their feet.
He could feel Simon struggle a little against the overwhelming sensations as well; Simon was leaning back a little but unable to restrain his own wandering hands from trailing down Thomas’ back. Thomas took a deep breath to try and steady himself but could only smell Simon. Every breath he took only reminded him of the body so tightly pressed against his own. He leaned back to put more space between them and tried to think, but every thought was instantly derailed by Simon.
He bent to kiss Simon again despite his best intentions because it was the only thing that he could do. It was only going to be one kiss and then he would pull away, but the taste was addicting and the pleasure pulled him back under again.
Thomas’ mouth was shockingly warm on his neck, sucking gently in counterpoint to wicked nails tracing light patterns up and down his side, pushing his shirt aside to bare even more skin for a wandering mouth. Simon couldn’t stop himself from writhing anymore and reached down to twist his fingers in an already wrinkled shirt to pull Thomas up.
Thomas came up willingly, making a quiet hum before kissing him. God, why hadn’t they kissed before this? Why had they waited so long? It was a wet heat he couldn’t get enough of. After trying a couple of times and being distracted, Simon could not help feeling a thrill of victory when he finished unbuttoning Thomas’ shirt. He pushed it off of Thomas’ shoulders but with a quick twist bunched it at his forearms, trapping distracting hands so he could do his own exploring. He hummed in pleasure as Thomas’ stomach muscles twitched under his questing fingers and then outright shuddered under more daring touches: a finger dipping just below the waistband, small pinches on the inside of his thighs.
A flush rushed down Thomas’ chest when Simon nipped the skin over his racing heart. Thomas groaned and jerked his arms when Simon pulled his cravat off with one easy tug. He wrapped both of his legs around Thomas’ hips to keep him in place. He traced a thudding heartbeat up to nibble on an ear before kissing back down to the pulse racing just below the skin.
A small ripping sound was the only warning Simon had that his trap had been undone. But rather than take over as Simon expected, Thomas braced himself with one arm against the shelves and threaded his fingers through Simon’s hair. He tilted his head to the side and made a small encouraging sound when Simon continued his attentions.
A roll of Thomas’ hips brought the lightning skating down his back once more. He yanked open his button but fumbled the laces when Thomas used his distraction to start kissing him again. Hands pushed him back a little before gently cupping him, making stars light up behind his eyes. He stared unseeing at the ceiling and tried to quiet the noises spilling from his throat.
Thomas knew Simon had no idea what he looked like, back arched and legs wrapped around his hips, flush spreading down his heaving chest. He was helpless to stop himself from leaning over to kiss and lick the skin spread out so invitingly before him.
With the button already taken care of, it was a simple matter to pull on laces and part fabric to slip his hand inside Simon’s breeches. Simon’s sigh was choked when Thomas wrapped his fingers fully around him. He stroked down slowly before pulling him fully out of the confining breeches. Simon thrust up against his hands in silent appreciation and for a short while Thomas’ attention was focused on the heat he held in his hands.
But before Thomas could realize what was happening, Simon’s eager hands were snapping the laces of his breeches to return the favor. It was clumsy, with two sets of hands trapped between their stomachs, but the sparks that curled his toes made him disregard any effort for finesse. They stole kisses from each other in between panting breathes.
Thomas had to freeze for a moment, trapped between his muscles straining to move, when Simon wrapped his hand around both of them. Every slight movement caused them to slide against each other and his heartbeat to roar in his ears. Thomas wrapped his hand around Simon’s while his other hand pinned Simon’s hip. Too soon he could feel everything tighten and turn into a bright flaring heat. Both of their hands moved without any rhythm, driven on by the frantic feeling that greater pleasure hovered just beyond. He caught Simon’s moan with a sloppy kiss just as he came with a shudder.
It was the thought that he was likely crushing Simon that roused him from his lethargic sprawl. Thomas groaned and levered himself up against his elbows. He let his fingers drift across Simon’s chest to trace a trail of small red marks. He enjoyed the small shivers his touch caused.
Everything had been so rushed that they were still mostly clothed. Thomas blushed a little at the thought of how they must look. But the pleasure still humming through his system brushed away any worries. Thomas leaned down to drop idle kisses across Simon’s chest and let his fingers leisurely explore. Simon batted at his hands when they drifted too far down; the faint touches were too much for over sensative skin.
Simon winced as he pushing himself away from the bookshelf. Thomas helped him pull his clothing back to rights and felt guilty for the bruises that were no doubt making themselves felt. It was a relief when Simon accepted his kiss and further deepened it.
“Next time,” Thomas promised, a wry smile on his mouth, “A bed and all the time in the world.”