Many thanks to Mog, for creating this universe and allowing the rest of us to play in it.

Nothing New Under the Sun

Part One: Two Kisses by Lumina~


Ezra Standish's eyes swept the room around him distractedly. His mind idly registered the heat of the fire crackling at his back, the dancing interplay of warm light and cool shadows flickering over the rich furnishings of Orin Travis's library, and the whispering brush of snowflakes against the glass of the French doors.


Crossing his arms, he brought his gaze back to the man standing before him. Lifting a speculative eyebrow, he stated, "You're joking." Then, more hesitantly as his companion took a step towards him, "Aren't you?"


The din of the New Year's Eve party revelers was a distant backdrop, their countdown to midnight droning in time with his suddenly accelerating heartbeat as he took in the countenance of the taller man. The firelight cast a red glow across his skin creating a devilish effect that was heightened by the mischievous glint in his eyes and by the sly uptilt to his lips.


A low, throaty chuckle passed over those lips as he said, "It is New Year's, Ezra. What'd it hurt?"


Ezra slid a step backwards as the other man advanced towards him, cursing inwardly as his shoulders came into contact with the mantelpiece behind him. A flash of irritation flared within him as the counting off of the last few seconds till the New Year suddenly became the marked rush allotted to him to make his decision.


"There's a room full of women just down the hall. I'm quite sure any number of them would be overwhelmed at the prospect of being kissed by you at the stroke of midnight," Ezra drawled, infusing his voice with a sardonic bite in an attempt to distract, to deflect the other man from his intentions.


It was an attempt doomed to failure as first one long arm snaked out, halting his surreptitious slide towards the door, then the other reached out, blocking his retreat. He found himself trapped within the circle of those arms as their hands rested on the mantelpiece on either side of his body.


"I'm not down the hall. I'm here, now, with you. And it's your sweet mouth I want to taste. What'd it hurt?" he repeated, his whispered words caressing Ezra's skin as he brought his face within inches of Ezra's own.


Ezra met the other man's eyes, hesitation and confusion warring with the sudden frisson of desire that shivered through him as his skin felt seared by the heat he saw igniting there, directed at him. And as a tingling trail of nerve endings was blazed across his cheek by a single finger lightly stroking his flesh.


"What'd it hurt?"

Ezra shuddered and closed his eyes, his face turning towards the warm rush of breath as Buck Wilmington uttered those words once more. He felt Buck's lips hover over his cheek a fraction of a second before lowering to his skin as the grandfather clock in the hall tolled the first stroke of midnight.

Buck's lips were warm and unaccountably soft as they pressed a surprisingly chaste kiss to Ezra's face. Ezra opened his eyes, his confusion increasing at the tentativeness of that touch, only to find himself staring directly into the blue eyes roving over his face. The arrogant surety, the cockiness that he'd seen in their depths just moments ago had been replaced with a softening, a silent appeal when they met Ezra's gaze. And unexpectedly, Ezra found himself responding to that plea, to the uncertainty in the hands that hadn't yet come to rest on his shoulders. To the dichotomy in the man that allowed sweet hesitation to wage battle with his maddening natural conceit and produced this one moment of startling clarity, of stark honesty, when Ezra could see all that Buck wanted in his eyes.

Buck wanted him. For whatever reason, just him.

A breathless hush enfolded them, blocking out the laughter of the partygoers and the raucous strains of "Auld Lang Syne," filtering out the nearer sounds of logs snapping, of the quickening wind lifting snowflakes against the windows. Only one thing penetrated that barrier, one sound, one rhythm as his heart beat against Buck's, both in time with the dwindling count of midnight being struck by the clock.

Ezra felt the pull of those eyes and his body followed, almost of its own volition, as he moved towards Buck's warmth, as his face pressed up towards the lips that were so close he could feel the minute stream of breath flowing from between them.

Ezra's eyes drifted shut as Buck responded to that tacit permission by reclaiming with his mouth the skin he had so recently possessed.

Ezra found himself again taken with the softness, the lightness of Buck's touch as those lips placed another reverent kiss on his skin. They merely lay there a moment, as if savoring the spot as one would a delicacy, before Buck's tongue flicked out. Lips and tongue moved into action then, exploring his face, tasting of his skin, before travelling on to his mouth. The mere stroke of mouth over mouth, the brush of fine whiskers across his upper lip, sent a thoroughly unexpected shudder coursing through his body, the very simplicity of the touches an erotic thrill like none other he had ever felt.

The large hands that had finally gripped his shoulders as their mouths met tightened convulsively before one slid down his arm, smoothly unbuttoning his jacket before sliding under the cloth and around his back. That questing hand left a heated path down Ezra's back as it trailed down his rear applying enough firm pressure to bring their bodies into close, warm alignment before moving to rest on his hip. Buck's tongue slowly traced the outline of Ezra's mouth before laving the lips themselves as if seeking to assuage his spoken desire to taste what was there.

That tongue wanted everything though, plunging into the interior of Ezra's mouth, pushing past teeth and along the length of its mate as it swept along the roof and sides. Ezra's focus kept shifting from the fingers digging almost painfully into his shoulder to the searing heat radiating from where Buck's other hand rested on his hip to the firm length of the muscled body that seemed to be engulfing him with its touch, with its scent, with its feel. But most especially with its taste as Ezra's own tongue felt the cool burn of mint and the individual essence that flavored the warm moistness of Buck's mouth.

Just as Ezra realized the low moaning he'd been hearing was coming from his own lips, Buck pulled away from him. That same moaning ended abruptly on a note of disappointment as, dazed, Ezra blinked up at the taller man.

Buck smiled, Ezra noticing, for the first time, the slight crinkling at the corners of his eyes as he did so. Ezra felt a pang pull at his heart as he saw the tenderness in those eyes and felt it in the finger idly flicking hair off his forehead.

As if in answer to the unspoken question in Ezra's mind, Buck said, "It's a New Year, Ezra. Time for change. A new direction."

Buck stepped back as he spoke and as he did so, both men heard a throat clearing in the doorway. Startled, Ezra saw the form of Chris Larabee outlined against the light in the hallway, his face in shadow as he held open the door.

"Party's down the hall, boys."

Ezra glanced towards Buck, who was frowning at his oldest friend, even as one hand, still resting on Ezra's arm, squeezed reassuringly.

"Know that pard. Me and Ezra just wanted to get away from the crowd for a minute." A wide smile creasing his face, Buck tugged on Ezra's arm, shepherding him towards the door. "We can finish our talk later."

As Ezra allowed himself to be propelled past the stiff body of Chris and out of the room, he noted the hard stare their leader directed towards Buck and the falsely jovial smile that man sent in return. Already confused by Buck's desire to kiss him and by his own body's reactions to that touch, Ezra was further disconcerted by the interplay between the other two men, his mind already speculating as to its cause. One thought filled his mind as he strode down the hall and back to the party. 'Talk, later? You can bet on it, Mr. Wilmington.'

Ezra found himself back in the library hours later his forehead resting on his arm which, in turn, lay on the mantelpiece as he stared into the flames burning low and dying in the grate. He'd needed a few moments of privacy and quiet, away from the noise of the party that was still going strong, to sort through the tumult of conflicting thoughts roiling in his head.

Confusion remained as well as a strong determination to answer all the questions of why. Why did Buck want to kiss him? Why now, with no prelude or previous hint of desire on his part? Why did his own body react the way it had to a touch he'd never even considered before? Buck was assuredly most skilled in the art of kissing, but it was the emotions underlying the actions that were most affecting Ezra. The tenderness he'd seen in Buck's eyes and felt in that first touch of his lips; the urgency in the fingers gripping his shoulder and the possessiveness of the hand laying on his hip. Even now, Ezra could feel the tingle engendered by those long fingers splayed across his hip as if they belonged there.

Then there was the question of Chris. What was behind the penetrating stares he'd continued to throw at Buck as the other man discreetly hovered over Ezra at the party? Why did he seem angry, and at Buck, not Ezra? What caused the grim tightening of Chris's lips and the brittle cast that turned his eyes into glacial pools of ice? How much had he seen before announcing his presence in the library? And why did it disturb Ezra that, of all people, Chris should be the one to walk in on them?

Sighing, Ezra decided there would be no answers found tonight. Pushing himself away from the fireplace, he turned around only to find himself face to face with one of the two men occupying his thoughts.

Chris Larabee stood before him, arms crossed over his chest, his face again in shadows as the lowering flames in the fireplace failed to reach him.

"You like kissing men, Ezra?"

Chris's voice touched Ezra's ears in a low, husky drawl that wafted over his skin like a warm breeze, his senses, already heightened by Buck's kiss, surging with anticipation. There was no anger, no rancor in Chris's tone. Only a genuine questioning, a speculation, as well as a hint of a promise. A challenge. It was there to be seen, as he stepped into the circle of firelight, in his eyes, in the spark of amusement there, in the way they dropped to caress Ezra's lips before lifting to meet his eyes, one side of his mouth curving in a sultry smile.

Ezra met that challenge the only way he knew how: with one of his own. Arching an eyebrow before returning Chris' smile with a secretive one of his own, Ezra said, "I liked kissing Mr. Wilmington."

Chris's eyes dropped to his mouth again as he nodded. Then, tilting his head, he said, "Then maybe you'd like kissing me."

As Chris slowly raised his eyes to meet his again, Ezra felt their passage across his face as he would an actual touch, a touch that sent a wave of heat through his body. Ezra held Chris's gaze and asked, "Why should I kiss you, Mr. Larabee?"

"It is New Year's, Ezra. And you gave Buck a kiss. It's only fair," he finished mildly as he took another step closer to Ezra.

Ezra resisted the urge to take a step backwards and said, "Life, as you know, is rarely fair, Mr. Larabee."

"Life, no," Chris replied, his lips lifting again in an infuriatingly smug smile, "but you are, Ezra."

"Why do you want to?" Ezra asked doubting he would get any more of an answer from Chris than he had from Buck.

Chris took one more step, close enough now that Ezra could feel his breath on his face as he asked a question of his own. "Why do you want to kiss me, Ezra?"

And like Buck and Chris, he had no answer. He just knew he did. Unlike with Buck though, whose touch he didn't know he wanted until he had it, Ezra knew, without a doubt, that he craved Chris's touch with a burgeoning intensity that matched the fire lit by Buck. But with the perverseness natural born to his soul, he asked, "What makes you think I want to kiss you?"

Chris's lips quirked in one more grin before he whispered, "This."

Then his mouth was on Ezra's, his hands gripping his shoulders much like Buck's had done, but there they stayed, holding him steady as Chris let his mouth seduce. Where Buck's kiss had been tender, almost hesitant, yet passionate, sending a spark of electricity through him that had yet to die out, Chris's kiss was hard and fierce, his mouth devouring where Buck's had sought to taste.

Two kisses. Different, yet the same. Both demonstrated hunger, showed want. And both seduced.

Ezra was breathless when Chris broke off the kiss and said, his own breath coming heavily, "Buck made a choice. So have I. It's your turn, Ezra."

Two men. Two kisses. Two men who wanted him. Two men that he wanted. But only one could he have.

'Happy New Year, indeed.'


To Be Continued in Nothing New Under the Sun, Part Two~In the Light of the Day

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