Author Topic: Exposure  (Read 1264 times)

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Offline suneater

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #30 on: May 13, 2019, 07:55:39 AM »
A light smile lined Luke's lips when Harm renegotiated the arrangement of their legs beneath the table. It drained away immediately when he casually supposed that there were vampires living in his building. The lack of concern confused Luke. Was he joking? Was he just not aware of the danger involved? Harm was almost the perfect meal- he was pretty, single, and had a very late shift on what Luke assumed was a predictable schedule.

The cautionary admonishment he was composing in his head evaporated when Harm revealed just as casually that he thought Trevor had been mixed up with the undead. Luke was staring, through him rather than at him, while he wandered down mental pathways that led nowhere good. If an ex who had apparently consumed his life had been involved with vampires, it stood to reason that he had in some capacity as well. Even if he'd been unwitting, it could easily have been the supernatural connection that had put him in the Project Twilight's cross-hairs.

His intention to try some french toast was completely forgotten while he processed yet another bombshell. It wasn't until Harm walked through the door he'd left open that he even seemed aware of his surroundings again. He blinked rapidly, as if his mind had snagged on the previous moment and was only then catching up.

He'd wanted Harm to open the door, but he wasn't sure how far inside he wanted to invite him. He set down his coffee and laid his hand beside his fork, pushing aside his suspicions about Trevor for the time being. There were a few different ways he could help Harm wade into the supernatural quagmire of his existence. He grasped the fork and carved off a soggy corner of french toast that was wet with syrup and ice cream. He didn't bring it to his mouth immediately; he left it suspended before him, his elbow braced on the table.

"I work for one." His voice, quiet for the sake of potential eavesdropping, shook slightly; Trevor was still weighing on his mind. He glanced down at the table between them before raising his eyes and regarding Harm again. "Which is definitely more aware than I'd like to be." He aimed the fork for his mouth and plunged it in. His eyes widened as the cold, creamy, sugary goodness exploded on his tongue. He chewed slowly, savoring it, then swallowed. He was still watching Harm, gauging his reaction. It was a lot, for sure, but it was really only the tip of the iceberg.

Part of him hoped Harm would freak out. Take off. Want nothing to do with him.

That would have been so much easier.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #31 on: May 13, 2019, 12:04:41 PM »
Harm was far from dissuaded. He was fascinated, though the tremulous manner in which Luke admitted his employer's status was something that roused concern in him. The urge to reach out and touch returned - just a hand, it would be so easy - but Harm fought it off. Luke gave the impression of concrete, solid and unwavering. Harm hoped there was more to him, on the inside - that little tremor hinted at it - but such gruff creatures were generally oversensitive about maintaining a smooth veneer to better protect their vulnerable innards. It wouldn't do to make a big deal of potential weaknesses, not in public. That never went well.

"You work for a," he looked furtively about before hissing his next word, even though he'd stated it in regard to his own circumstances rather casually just a few moments before (and there was still no-one nearby to worry about, anyway), "vampire? Doing security? They need security? Does he - she? - drink from you? Have you ever been bitten? What's it like?" he asked eagerly, hurling questions at Luke too quickly to allow him to get an answer in. He watched his companion's expression shift and managed to stop himself after the sixth question, sensing disapproval (though whether it was for the rapidfire questions or something else he had to wait and see).

It made perfect sense to Harm that Luke's statement of heightened awareness correlated directly to his experiences at the end of a set of vampire fangs, and he didn't seem happy about it. Harm had personally been advised - on more than one occasion (whilst babysitting idiots getting a transfusion because they'd let themselves get almost drained to death) - that he ought to try it. It was, apparently, the beeeeeest, maaaan. The idea that he'd get a firsthand recount from someone he'd trusted (or had, at the very least, known a long while) excited him and his eager expression as he shoved more delicious french toast in his mouth to stop him talking showed it.

Offline suneater

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #32 on: May 18, 2019, 04:46:27 AM »
He'd been expecting at least a degree of disapproval. Working for a vampire had to be at least on the order of being involved in a crime syndicate, morally speaking. It certainly didn't sit well with him. He couldn't help but wonder if Harm's regard for him, the affection he'd had trapped inside him for the years that they'd known one another, was to blame. He'd been ready for rejection or disdain; simple interest threw him for a loop.

Sensing Luke's disapproval during the torrent of questions probably wasn't difficult. His frown had appeared when feeding came up and deepened steadily thereafter. He set his fork down, but misjudged the action enough to produce a sharp sound when the metal tines connected with the ceramic plate.

"I've never been bitten," he answered with an air of finality. "He definitely doesn't drink from me. I work for him, that's all." His broad shoulders rose and fell. "It's complicated, but I don't think he's a bad guy at his core. Still, you know," his voice lowered, and he made a vague gesture with his gloved hand. "A vampire, though."

His lips pressed tight together as he considered his next step. He didn't think it was time to out himself as other, or to fill Harm in on how extensive the presence of supernatural creatures in the city was. Knowing they existed was one thing; knowing they were organized enough to have a government, which he was militarily involved with, was entirely another. Really, he wanted to talk about something else. Anything else. The problem was that he really didn't have anything in that particular tank. He didn't have a social life, or hobbies, or television shows to talk about.

Luke cleared his throat and reached for his water. After taking a gulp, he offered Harm a terse smile. He tried out a half-dozen things he might say, but none of it rang true. The result would be a painfully awkward length of silence unless Harm jumped in.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #33 on: May 18, 2019, 11:48:26 PM »
Harm winced when Luke put his fork down with a clang, his heart leaping with trepidation. He hadn't meant to make Luke angry; he listened to him warily, expecting there might be more than just the biting words he got. He relaxed when it ended where it did.

He had to wonder about Luke's attitude towards vampires; it couldn't have come from his experiences with Trevor, so had there been something with his boss? Or was it just a general dislike for bloodsucking monsters? Harm could understand that, but his outlook came from a place of realism, flavoured by cynicism, and he didn't share it.

Instead of replying immediately, he took a couple of bites of french toast, chewing and swallowing ruminatively. When Luke smiled tightly at him, he grinned back, finding his old friend's gruff awkwardness adorable. His viewpoints seemed to be so black and white... he really didn't blend well with Harm's shades of grey outlook.

It was probably a bad idea for him to be sitting here imagining just how far their similarities could carry them before their differences became too great to overcome... but imagine he was. Thinking was only make-believe. What harm could it do? He rubbed Luke's leg lightly, curious about its steel-like feel and what it would be like pressed against him.

"Sorry," he said after a while. He'd found the time looking at Luke highly pleasurable, even if nothing was said. "I didn't mean to offend you. I'm not... a groupie or anything, I've just been told - often - that their bite is very enjoyable and, since they don't have to kill to do it, I figured it's harmless enough. Definitely safer than the way most people seek their highs, in this city. Addiction is addiction though, I suppose," he said contritely, lowering his gaze. He poked negligently at his food, stirring the melted ice cream without paying attention to what he was seeing.

"I am... interested in hearing more about what you know... if you're willing to share. You seem like you're in a unique position of knowledge and I hate feeling ignorant. It's... I often feel like there's so much more beyond my comprehension. Like I'm in this fight to help people too stupid to know what's good for them and I don't know the rules of the game, let alone have the weapons I need. Would you... be willing to share?" he asked hopefully, tilting his head forward so that he was looking up at Luke through his lashes.

He considered inviting Luke back to his place, where they could speak more freely, but he recognised that that was just an excuse to get him alone, in a place where they could get way more comfortable. No-one was bothering them in the diner. There was no reason to move their conversation to his couch, where they could rub much more than legs against each other... that rationality didn't quell the desire, though.

Offline suneater

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2019, 01:37:20 PM »
His rumination veered off course when he felt Harm's leg move against his. It wasn't much, but it was enough to make him wonder what more contact with Harm would feel like. He felt his dick stir, and inexplicably, felt heat in his cheeks. He wanted to draw his leg away, but the warm calf against his own was intoxicating in a way he was hard-pressed to validate. Human contact. His vampire lover had been so cold to the touch, and the encounter in the bar bathroom had been devoid of affection. The sudden impulse to reach across the table with his uncovered hand arose and passed in an instant. It would have been too much, and frankly, he still wasn't sure how he felt about their dynamic. How restrained would he be if he wasn't aware that Harm was carrying years of emotional baggage with his name on the tags? What if they hadn't known one another at all?

His brown knit when Harm's request came. His gaze strayed to evaluate the presence of the waitress and other patrons. The notion to take things elsewhere occurred to him as well. It would have to be a hotel or the like; his paranoia meant that he wasn't about to lead any Project Twilight operatives to Harm's place if they somehow had him under surveillance. Suggesting the go to a hotel had some very specific connotations, though. His cheeks colored slightly again, and then he shook his head.

"It's not safer. You've only seen the victims that survive. Some of them are kind. Careful. But a lot of them aren't, and when they get really hungry..." He trailed off and then picked up elsewhere. "Your best weapon is avoidance. Just like any other opportunistic crime. Keep your eyes open, don't be an easy target." He gripped the edge of the table with his gloved hand. When he spoke again his voice was soft. "Your job puts you at risk. Your hours. You really should be careful."

He released the table and sat back in the booth, crossing his arms. "You're better off not knowing, but if you want specifics, we can't do that in public." He spared another glance toward the waitress. Her trajectory was about to bring her into eavesdropping range. "I really don't think it's a great idea, but I guess it's only fair. You... also have a unique position of knowledge." It felt a little less mercenary to use Harm's own phrasing. It was the truth, though. Harm had something he needed, and if he had to make some concessions to get it, well... there were certainly worse ways to spend an evening. Fucked up as it was, this was one of the best nights he could lay claim to.

He pulled his foot back an inch, rubbing his leg along Harm's in the process. He felt terrible for doing it, but the simple fact was that he wanted to. He wanted to flirt back. He wanted Harm to know he was receptive to his touch.

"It actually might be better for us to do it during the day," he said, and then hastily added: "Talk, I mean. Because, you know." He shrugged. "Sunlight."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #35 on: May 21, 2019, 10:21:34 PM »
Harm was taken by the colour in Luke's face, the left side of his smile lifting as he admired the way the security expert looked in that shade of pink. God, he was even more beautiful than he'd been when he was young and pretty. He was harder now, wound tighter than a spring and as sharp as a blade but so damn sexy that just his response to Harm's leg whispering against him set the nurse's imagination on fire. His body wasn't far behind.

The description of vampires getting hungry was chilling and it dampened Harm's growing lust. He nodded obediently, putting his cutlery down so that he could reach into the backpack beside him but he didn't get there before Luke continued speaking. He paused, listening and observing Luke's defensive body language, one hand still on his bag.

The returned brushing of his leg followed by an invitation for them to get together in the day had Harm's eyebrows climbing towards his hairline and his heart picking up speed with hope. "Uh, well, sure, that sounds great," he stammered enthusiastically, resuming the dive into his backpack. He lifted out a personal stun gun and held it just above the edge of the table, in Luke's line of sight, before he put it back and re-zipped the bag. "I am careful," he insisted. "I'm not stupid but... forewarned is forearmed and all that," he grinned ruefully.

He squared up to Luke again, leaning forward onto the table and dropping one arm across it. It lay beside the food plate, angled towards Luke's hand, his fingers twirling over the glossy surface in coy circles. He wasn't game to touch Luke but he wanted to. "Whatever you think is best," he nodded, referring to the daylight meet up, licking his lips. Suddenly, he was insanely nervous - and excited - about spending more time alone with Luke. "I'm headed home to sleep when we leave here and I'm free for the next two days, before I start a week of days at the hospital. Do... d'you want to come to my place maybe? If you're free? Or...?" he left it hanging, waiting for Luke to jump in with his opinion.

The wait until he spoke next would be excruciating, as Harm considered all the ways Luke could change his mind and turn him down.

Offline suneater

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #36 on: May 22, 2019, 12:30:31 PM »
Luke's eyebrows hedged up slightly when he spotted the weapon. He winced at a dull ache in his temples, but disregarded it and tried to listen as Harm outlined his schedule. The ache sharpened, and Luke grit his teeth. Harm would likely notice the way he slumped back against the booth, eyes unfocused and glassy.

"... normal projectiles and stun-guns are ineffective against undead targets. Their vital-analogue and neurological functions vary too greatly from living organisms. Optimal CQC engagement protocols are fire, edged weapons, and bone-breaking, but CQC is not recommended for assets without enhanced strength or durability. Special ammunition is optimal ranged protocol and the optimal overall-"

"Jesus, Krake, that's fucking verbatim."

He trailed off at the interruption from the dark-haired young man who was lying on his stomach on a dorm-style bed, looking at a splayed open file folder and shaking his head. Luke was sitting backwards in a rolling chair at a nearby desk. He smirked. "Don't act so surprised, Nox. Some of us actually pay attention in-"


Seven full seconds had passed since Luke had gone unresponsive. Alertness returned in a sudden rush and he jerked, sitting up and placing his hands palm down on the table to brace himself. He sucked down a deep breath and looked across the booth at Harm. He felt something warm and wet on his upper lip and reached up to wipe with his left hand. It came away smeared with a single large drop of blood. His head felt like someone was having a katana duel inside of it, all sharp edges and metal on metal ringing.

"I... sorry." He went for a napkin and wiped his nose. Thankfully it came away clean. He tried to focus on what Harm had been saying so that he could blow past what just happened. "Tomorrow afternoon? Not your place though." It came out a little more forcefully than he'd intended, but he wasn't regulating so well at the moment. "I'll text you, okay? I should get going." He dropped his hands to his lap so he could discretely wipe the blood off of his finger.

He closed his eyes for a split second, blotting out the bright lights of the diner, and drew a deep breath. When he opened his eyes again, he regarded Harm. His expression was under control, but pain gleamed in his eyes. "I'll be fine," he imparted gruffly before Harm could object or ask questions. "It's an amnesia thing."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #37 on: May 22, 2019, 11:12:59 PM »
The first alarming sign was a wince indicating pain; it made Harm frown. The second was the way Luke sagged into his seat; Harm's mouth formed a perfect circle of surprise and he froze, recognising what he was seeing but disbelieving because... well, because it was Luke and he seemed invincible. The third sign was the distant look in the beautiful hazel eyes that had haunted his dreams for most of his adult life; Harm scrambled out of his side of the booth as fast as he could and shot around to the other side, kneeling with one knee on the seat beside Luke, to examine him.

When Luke surged out of his unresponsive state like a drowning man surfacing for breath, Harm shit himself and almost fell backwards out of the booth in shock, his leg bent awkwardly beneath him. He managed to grab hold of the table and the back of the seat when his torso was at about a forty-five degree angle to the floor and pulled himself up in time to see a napkin wiping beneath a nose. A hand dove into his pocket, absently searching for the examination light he had in there even as Luke turned to look at him and tell him he'd be fine. Like this was some sort of regular occurrence. Clearly, the STD he'd been worried about didn't rate high on the concerns scale, compared to this - and Harm wasn't having any of his nonsense about it being only due to amnesia.

"It's really not," he argued sternly, looming over Luke and grasping his face with gentle authority. While one hand lifted each of the taller man's eyelids in turn, the other flicked his light into each of his eyes. Thankfully, his pupil response was normal and Harm's heart began to slow from frenetic to merely hammering. "That was a seizure. Were you in a coma?" he asked briskly, depositing his light back into his pocket and pressing two of his fingers to Luke's wrist - the one without the glove - to count his pulse. He started to look around for a clock but gave up quickly because it became immediately apparent that Luke wasn't experiencing any arrhythmia. It also felt like his heart rate was slowing.

Still, Harm hovered, one knee on the seat, the other bracing him on the floor. His torso was pressed against Luke's arm and side, one hand on his wrist and the other flitting about his face, testing the temperature of his forehead with the back of his hand before he wrapped that arm around Luke's shoulders, resting it along the back of the booth. He peered into his old friend's eyes with concern, unfazed by the fact that their faces were so close together, their syrupy-sweet breaths were mingling. His mind was racing as he tried to remember whether Luke had said anything about being in a coma? He didn't believing he had. The brain was still such a mystery that anything could've happened to Luke, if he'd sustained physical trauma to it. Had they even talked about the accident? Had he confirmed what happened? Harm was frustrated he couldn't remember, in the haze of his worry.

Offline suneater

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #38 on: May 23, 2019, 07:29:59 AM »
Luke regarded Harm with an air of exasperation as the man fussed over him, but he didn't stop him. He doubted he could have without physically restraining him. He was relatively still and totally silent as the examination proceeded, moving minimally to facilitate the poking and prodding. A small thrill ran through him when Harm took hold of his face.

When Harm asked if he had been in a coma, he considered lying. Technically it might not even be a lie; there was certainly room for a coma in the years he'd lost. But he couldn't swear to it, and he didn't want to lie unnecessarily. There would be plenty of critical falsehoods in the early stages of whatever their relationship ended up being, so it was best to keep it to a minimum. He shook his head simply. "Not that I'm aware of."

He liked the way it felt when Harm's arm slid over his shoulders. The proximity, the concern, they were so foreign to him that the result was nearly electric. He felt grounded to Harm, and he made no move to separate or pull away. Instead he regarded him from kissing distance and sighed.

"It happens when I remember things. I just did, when I saw your tazer. They sort of... trigger." His speech was slower, slightly more calculated, when he continued. "I remembered talking with someone about how ineffective those sorts of things are again you-know-whats, so keep that in mind." Another breath. "Really though, I'm okay. Light headache. They've never gotten worse, though some are worse than others." He regarded Harm from within kissing distance and averted his gaze just slightly. "I'll tell you more tomorrow. I promise."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #39 on: May 23, 2019, 11:22:50 AM »
"Oh," was all that Harm offered when told his stun gun would be ineffective against vampires. They were undead creatures, he supposed. It was just... they seemed so alive. Well, the ones that had moved into his apartment complex did, anyway. Still, he'd never bought the thing expecting to drop a vampire, really. It was more for things that couldn't move at excessive speeds and had heartbeats - muggers, rapists, murderers and werewolves, that sort of thing.

"You don't look okay," he argued as Luke fell quiet. Harm moved his fingers off Luke's wrist and slid his hand over Luke's, tilting slightly sideways as he did, to accommodate for the man's long arm. There was no point in hanging onto him if the seizures were a regular occurrence but he found that, now he'd initiated contact, he didn't want to stop. Luke was so warm and firm... Harm felt like a scarf wound around his muscular bulk - decorative, but largely ineffectual. He squeezed Luke's hand, finding his head now angled perfectly for a kiss... but that was one thing he'd never initiate. He'd tried once and it'd failed humiliatingly. He was glad Luke had forgotten that and he wasn't about to bring it up or repeat the embarrassment.

"By 'tomorrow afternoon', do you mean today afternoon, or actual tomorrow afternoon?" he enquired, his concern for Luke's wellbeing assuaged by his proximity and the daring position he was maintaining. He really should move back to his side of the booth, Luke had mentioned going... "'Cos it's like... what? One-thirty in the morning or something now, soooo... will I have to wait twelve hours to see you again or thirty-six?" he asked cheekily, managing to affect a pout through a grin (that wasn't nearly as sultry as he thought it was). "And where will we meet that's private, if not my place? Your place?"

Offline suneater

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #40 on: May 25, 2019, 03:34:26 AM »
Luke felt Harm’s hand slide into place atop his and became suddenly self-conscious of his gloved right hand, dropping it to rest on the pleather of the cushioned booth. He mustered the best reassuring smile he could, accepting the squeeze and doing his best to ignore the whining pain that lingered just inside his skull.

For a second there, he thought Harm might come in for a kiss. He swallowed, waiting for it. There was no way he would be the one to go for it. Considering the history Harm had to contend with, it would have been monstrously unfair. He didn’t think he would stop him, though. He couldn’t help but wonder how those soft-looking lips would feel against his own.

He was left blinking when the kiss never came, and Harm instead started babbling at him about logistical concerns for their meet-up.  He waited for him to finish before shaking his head slowly. “Today afternoon is what I meant. And…” He drew a breath. “I was thinking a motel or something.” He found it hard to meet Harm’s gaze and qualified his statement quickly before any lurid interpretations could crop up. “I don’t think it’s a great idea for me to go to your place. It could get you unwanted attention. And my place is… complicated, probably even worse actually.”

He looked up at him slowly. “Is that okay? Just the best way I can think of for us to have some privacy. No, you know, expectations, or anything.” He nudged against Harm’s shoulder, summoning a thin grin.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #41 on: May 26, 2019, 01:35:46 AM »
Harm's body was playing all sorts of tricks on him, pressed close to Luke as he was. For one, he could've sworn Luke was watching his lips and thinking about kissing him... but it didn't happen. For another, there were coy little looks and a sweet smile as the honey blond suggested they meet up at a motel (!!). He had very sound reasons for the suggestion and Harm couldn't fault their validity (though he didn't really get how Luke coming to his place would cause trouble for him - was it because of his Chinatown vampire neighbours? Could there be some sort of territorial problem between them and Luke's boss? He'd have to wait a few hours to find out, he supposed) but it still sounded so intimate.

The nudge made him think he wasn't imagining things after all; Luke talked about there being no expectations, sure, but that wouldn't stop Harm fantasising about one-thing-leads-to-another-and-oops! situations until he fell asleep. And to help him fall asleep...and while he slept... He'd no doubt have two therapy sessions' worth of 'expectations' by the time they met up again but he doubted any of them had to do with sex so much as achieving some sort of closure or getting answers regarding this big, beautiful man. Looking at his perfect, kissable face made Harm feel so hollow, yet so elated, he could barely breathe.

He was beginning to wax lyrical. He obviously really needed sleep.

With a wistful sigh, he straightened up onto his knee and cupped a hand against Luke's face, before grinning and playfully tugging on his earlobe as he pulled back and stood up. "Sure, that's fine. I mean, we could also meet in the middle of Pisky Park or out on the beach or in the woods but meeting you in a cosy room with a big bed and no expectations works, too," he shrugged nonchalantly, sliding back into his side of the booth and grinning at Luke. This time, he didn't fuck around; he closed both his legs around Luke's and gave it a squeeze to go with his innocent look. He left them there, too.

Now that he was back looking at Luke front on, he could see tightness across his forehead and around his eyes that caused Harm to from with concern. "Is your head hurting?" he asked suspiciously, grabbing his bag and unzipping it, preparing to root around inside it. "Do you want some pain tablets? I have some."

Offline suneater

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #42 on: May 28, 2019, 12:28:53 PM »
One of Luke's eyebrows veered upward when Harm caressed his face and tugged at his ear in a decidedly non-medical fashion. He wasn't sure what element of their conversation and interaction had led to outright affection after all the uncertain nudges and concerned examination, but he wasn't about to object. His grin solidified slightly, showing off just a hint of the white enamel behind his full lips. His eyes followed Harm back to the opposite side of the booth, and when Harm's legs pinned his, he flexed just enough to let the man feel the powerful contraction of his calves.

He shook his head in response to the offered meds. "No, it isn't bad. I try not to lean on pills if I can help it." His smile dwindled as he waxed thoughtful. "We should probably call it a night, yeah? I for one could use some shut-eye." He didn't wait for an answer before turning his head to locate the waitress and signal that they were ready for the check.

His eyes alighted on Harm again. He swallowed, then shook his head and grinned. "It's really cheesy, but I'm glad I ran into you. Until now my past has been this... black hole. Empty, but heavy." He bumped his leg against Harm. "It's nice to know it isn't all bad."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Exposure
« Reply #43 on: May 28, 2019, 09:43:17 PM »
Harm's eyebrows lifted, his pouty lower lip dropped and the tip of his tongue toyed with an upper canine as Luke's calf tightened. Jesus. Having Luke between his legs was fucking hot and his mouth flooded with saliva at the thought of his leg moving farther up, of being able to grind on him; his scrubs tightened and he swallowed as subtly as he was able. Exhaling unsteadily, he looked into Luke's eyes, not really hearing what he was saying except for 'no' and 'shut-eye'. He flushed, trying not to think too hard about sharing a bed with Luke and distracting himself with getting his wallet out of his bag instead.

Despite being unable to hear past his own libido at Luke's first comments, he heard his final statements clearly and Harm's heart melted. He grinned as he fished a fifty dollar note out of his wallet, giving it to Sandy as she arrived. It was enough to cover the meal, drinks and her tip, so if Luke tried to contribute, Harm would wave him away and tell him he wanted to pay, for old time's sake (knowing that would put Luke on uneven ground because it was a reference he wouldn't be able to argue) and Sandy walked away with a smile. Harm turned back to look at Luke, smiling playfully. "Maybe, but I appreciate a good dose of cheese. I'm glad I ran into you, too," he admitted, reaching forward and grasping Luke's hand. "And I'm really glad I could be of some help."

Withdrawing his hand, he put his wallet away and zipped up his backpack. He stood up out of the booth to put it on (glad his body had calmed down enough that he wouldn't embarrass himself), then leant down to grab his helmet. Straightening up with it dangling from one hand, he settled his bag on his back and smiled at Luke. "So you'll text me when and where to meet you, right?" he queried, receiving a nod and a deliciously thoughtful look for his trouble. He had the strongest urge to lean down and kiss Luke goodbye but his face was swiftly hijacked by a yawn that he tried to cover up with a hand. "Sorry. I'll catch you later," he said with a wink and walked out of the diner clipping his helmet on.

The hours until he saw Luke next couldn't pass fast enough.