David and Jay

Not Saying Girl

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The reason David even noticed the man in the corner in the corner in the first place was that he appeared to be in the throes of a sneezing fit. He leaned left and right to try and get a better view through the throng of dancers, but couldn't seem to quite manage it as sweaty bodies pressed in against his. The smoke filling the room made the far corners seem hazy and almost surreal as the music blared out, making the very air around him seem alive with a pulsing rhythm as "It's Raining Men" was coaxing everyone around him into a frenzy of waving arms and swaying hips. The vodka coursing through his veins didn't help matters; his vision was slightly blurred and try as he might, he just couldn't get a clear view of the man.

David's curiosity was piqued; he just had to get closer. He moved towards the edge of dance floor, almost unconsciously rubbing himself suggestively against a few undulating forms as he made his way through the throng. He stood, poised and darkly beautiful, framed for a few seconds in the swirling lights, as he tried to spy the sneezing man he had glimpsed.

There he was. Huddled into a corner, as if trying to fade into the walls, the man was covering his mouth and nose with strong hands, his head bobbing up and down every few seconds. Taking a few steps toward him, David observed his eyes squinting powerfully shut before each sneeze; long lashes kept colliding time and time again as his slender yet fit body pitched forward into the darkness. One sneeze followed the other at a few seconds of interval. Drawn almost irresistibly towards the stranger, David took in his dark, close cropped hair, his pale skin and high cheekbones, his stylishly camp white Asian-print t-shirt and close fitting black trousers. Interesting...

"You all right mate?" David asked when he finally reached the man. The other hastily nodded before leaning forward to sneeze again. Being closer this time, he could finally hear what they sounded like. Strong. Powerful. Thrilling. "Huh-eshoo-eshoo!... Eshoo!... Huh-eshuh!..."

David knew the stranger probably only wanted to be left to sneeze in peace but he couldn't resist trying to engage him in a conversation. There was nothing he found as sexy as a man trying to talk through a sneezing fit. Well, almost nothing, anyway.

"Are you sure you're okay? Allergies bothering you?" He trusted he didn't sound too hopeful.

The stranger rubbed furiously at his nose, annoyed, and removed his hands so that he could reply. Leaning slightly to one side to speak without actually sneezing on David, he answered:

"No... Eshuh!... I think I might be coming down with something... Huh-eshoo!... I was feeling a bit under th-the... Huh-eshh!... Sorry. Under the weather before I got here, but the smoke is really getting to m-muh... Ushoo!... Sorry. It's really getting up my nose and I huh-huh-eshoo!... I just can't stop sneezing. God this is so embarrassing... Eshoo!"

David, pulling expert, saw an opportunity he just couldn't miss.

"Let's get you out of here. I'm David. Come on, let's go outside; a bit of fresh air will do you good."

"All right... Eshoo!... I'm ... Huh-eshh!... I'm Jay."

David was almost sorry the man agreed. It wasn't because he didn't want to prolong this fortuitous meeting; he did want to alleviate this sexy bloke's discomfort... just not too much. He took Jay's hand and pulled him, still sneezing, through the oblivious crowd of bystanders. Passing blasÚ older men, tired-out dancers taking a fag break, the odd glamorous drag queen and go-go boys waiting for their turn to delight their appreciative audience, David gently made a path for himself and his new conquest through to the steps and out the door.

As they made their way out into the cool night, he heard Jay breathe a sigh of relief.

"Cheers for that; I thought I couldn't ever make it out of there... Huh-eshoo!... Oh, God!"

"Bless you. Fresh air is good, yeah?"

"You bet. I guess going in there at all was a bad idea. Like I said, I've been feeling like I've been coming down with something all...all... Heh-choo!... Sorry. All day. Nothing serious like, just a cold... I've just been feeling really sneezy; it only just started this afternoon."

"Sounds like you've got it bad already." Jay tried to keep his voice level. The conversation, not to mention Jay's continued (if less frequent) sneezing, was turning him on to no end. He remembered choosing to wear fairly snug underwear, which was beginning to feel rather uncomfortable. He wondered if Jay could discern his excitement through the thick fabric of his jeans and then remembered the jumper he was wearing was long enough to cover his crotch. Unfortunately.

"No, really, it's okay. I'm feeling fine, my nose is just feeling tickly. Also I've got a slight allergy to cigarette smoke, but it usually doesn't bother me... Not like tonight, anyway..." Jay paused, as if just mentioning the source of his earlier discomfort tipped a switch inside his sensitive nose, which started to twitch before he leaned aside and sneezed again into cupped palms, "Huh-eshoo!... Esshhoo!... Huh-eshhh!"

David pondered his course of action for a few minutes. On the one hand, he was feeling a literal swell of desire for Jay, not only because of his persistent sneezing, but also because he found him to be quite sexy, in a modern-camp kind of way, and amiable. If asked, he would have no doubt replied Jay was "just his type". On the other hand, he didn't want to come across as too forward; Jay had just confessed to not feeling his best and he wasn't sure whether he would like to be propositioned at the moment.

Wiping at his nose with a handkerchief he got seemingly out of nowhere, Jay looked at his rescuer. Being twenty-three himself, he guessed David to be older, somewhere near twenty-eight or twenty-nine. Tall, broad-shouldered and very straight looking, Jay found him quite attractive in his own right; though he had never liked flannel shirts ("how tacky," he thought to himself), the man paired them with a pair of flatteringly close-fitting blue jeans and carried it off well. His hair, brown and close-cropped like his own, was spiked and his eyes blazed a warm, caring dark amber even in the light of the street lamps. His expression, well-defined eyebrows raised and lush pink lips slightly pursed, seemed to be one of genuine concern. Before he could stop himself, Jay put away his handkerchief, reached out and took the man's hand.

"Hey, I'm fine. Really." David looked down at his hand. Remembering that he had just sneezed plenty of times into them before using them to handle his already sneeze-sodden handkerchief, Jay quickly took his hand away, blushing bright red with embarrassment. "Oh God, sorry."

Certain Jay was apologizing for making an advance he thought David didn't want, the latter hastily reached out to take his hand again. "Don't be sorry. That's all right," he paused, searching Jay's ice blue eyes with his own. The blush cinched it; David had never been able to resist a blushing man. Next to one sneezing his head off, it was the thing he found sexiest. "Do you..." he paused again, unsure whether this was the best way to handle his quarry.

"What?" Jay smiled up at him. For some absurd reason, he reminded David of Nathan off Queer As Folk in that moment, all vulnerability and wide-eyed innocence though they looked nothing alike.

"Do you want me to take you home?" there, he had said it. The ball was, so to speak, in Jay's court.

"Sure... I don't think I'm in any shape to dance tonight after all."

Had he understood the implications of David's offer?

David gave him his best charming-yet-slightly-dangerous smile. "Do you really want me to take you home Jay?"

This time, there was no mistaking David's intention. Jay looked at him for a moment, blue eyes tipped, uncertain, to his warm predatory amber ones. He appeared to consider this, which made David nervous. Suddenly, he felt wretched, as if he were taking advantage of a sick young boy. Jay wasn't exactly a boy- at least, he didn't look it- but he was feeling under the weather. What would he do- accept his proposition or tell him to fuck off?

"Don't you have a coat?" Jay inquired noncommittally, letting go of David's hand and eyeing the doorway of Cruz 101 from which they had just emerged.

Damn. Seduction had failed. This was the part where the handsome young boy ran away from the aged hunter never to be seen again. "No. Do you?"

"No," he laughed, his serious blue eyes suddenly lighting up his whole face as he broke into a smile. "Let's go then."

Incredibly enough, David felt his heart start to beat faster. He had done this sort of thing so many time that he had thought himself an expert in reading his conquests' intentions. He had been so certain Jay was going to excuse himself and run back to the relatively safe yet sneeze-inducing confines of Cruz that he was actually surprised by this turn of events. Of course, he didn't let this show.

"Right. Let's go then," he said, smiling suavely in turn, digging his car keys out of the pockets of his jeans.

They walked side by side down Canal Street and onto the nearby parking lot where David had parked his jeep. He was fairly drunk but still felt confident driving; alcohol had never kept David from doing much, really. And Jay was so sexy... Would he sneeze again tonight?

As if on cue, the younger man turned aside, gasping harshly and bending over slightly at the waist as unexpected sneezes rocketed through him, "Huh-esshoo-eshoo!... Huh-esshh! Eshoo!" He flashed David a smile where mild surprise and embarrassment were mixed before apologizing again.


"Bless you. And don't worry about it. You know, you have a sexy sneeze."

"I do?" Jay certainly hadn't heard that one before.

"Yeah. So don't apologize. Better in than out, you know." David wisely stopped there; he didn't want to weird Jay out before they even got anywhere.

"Oh. Right."

Not being able to think of anything else to add, Jay merely smiled at David and gave him another subtle up-and-down look. He really was good looking, and he seemed nice. Shaking his head, his smile faded into a smaller private one as he wondered what he had gotten himself into. He knew that he wouldn't have gone into the club, all tarted up and alone, if he hadn't had the idea of pulling in the back of his mind but the speed and manner in which events had taken place was somewhat unexpected. Usually, it was matter of dancing and flirting with the cute guys around him until one of them gave in and began to dance closer and closer... until they both wound up at someone's flat, talking and sometimes drinking some more, before more often than not winding up between the sheets together. David was fortunate in that he was good-looking enough to usually attract the objects of his interest. Most often, these turned into boyfriends which Jay managed to keep anywhere from a week to a few months. One-night stands were something unusual for this affectionate young man, and he quite wondered what tonight- and David- were going to turn into.

As they reached the car, David unlocked the doors and he and Jay slid inside. It only took a few seconds for the younger man to start sneezing again, which delighted David as he started up the motor and pulled out of the lot.

"Huh-eshoo!... Esshoo!... Huh-hhh-huh-Esshh!... Eshh!... Eshhoo!"

Oops... He had not left any windows open to clear the car air from the smoke of his last cigarette before he left it. They were in central Manchester after all...

"Could you... Huh-eshhoo!... Could y-you -yieshoo!... open a window, I'mmm... Eshh!... Smoke- it's making me sn-esshoo!... Me... Huh-esshoo!... Hesshh!... Sneeze... Huh... Huh-esshoo!... Esshh!... Esshh!..."

As Jay kept on sneezing, David listened in and thought how nice it was that he didn't even think of stifling those wonderful, wet and energetic sneezes that sent tingles down his spine with each delightful explosion. He felt a slight twinge of guilt for having brought on this second sneezing attack, however unintentionally, yet took his time in complying with Jay's request. Oh, that sneezing!

"What?" He only wanted to prolong this a little bit more...

"Huh... Huh-eshhuh!... Huh-eishoo!... Window!... Esshuh!" Jay motioned with his left hand as he did his best to keep his right one clamped over his seizing nose and contorting mouth.

"Oh. I'm so sorry." David promptly pressed the buttons that made the front windows of the car slide down all the way. God he hated driving with a hard-on.

"Eshoo!... Thanks... Eh-Isshh!... Oh..." Jay breathed in deeply as the crisp, relatively clean air of Manchester's city centre air filled the car. This immediately triggered another sneeze, a rather harsh "Errshoo!", after which Jay relaxed into his seat even as David literally stiffened in his, digging his handkerchief out of his pocket anew and giving a discreet blow into it.

"Whew. Sorry 'bout that. It's the smoke, y'know. Bloody allergies, and all.

"Yes." David definitely knew. Feeling an evil kind of pleasure spread upwards from his groin onto his face, he added in as mild a tone as he could muster:

"Say, Jay, would you fancy going back to mine instead? I'm sure a hot shower would do wonders for you and my place is pretty cosy... If you'd like to stay over and get a good night's... sleep..."

Jay didn't want to displease David and besides, his flat was kind of far. The hot shower suddenly seemed infused with promise, naked bodies rubbing up sensually against each other...

"Sure, whatever, I'm flexible."

David smiled broadly and hoped this was a double-entendre. "Good then. I don't live too far off; we should be there in a minute."

Indeed, in a short while, they would be back in David's penthouse apartment where there was not only a modern shower and a comfortable double bed, but also an atmosphere where traces of his smoking habit always lingered even though he consistently left the windows open. It should be fairly aired out right now and he knew he could refrain from smoking during Jay's stay... but in the irritated state his companion's nose seemed to be in at the moment, even those light traces of leftover smoke would surely be enough to trigger a few pleasant sneezing fits without giving away his ulterior motives for asking Jay to stay over at his place.

David pulled into the building's small parking lot and locked the doors as Jay exited the car after him. They went up the steps and into David's flat hand in hand, Jay smiling shyly into David's gleaming amber eyes.

"Drink?" Much as he would have liked to jump straight into the action, David felt it was important to set his companion at ease.

"Um, yeah, sure. What'd you have?"

"What do you want?" His cabinet was well stocked for just such occasions.

"Vodka and Coke, if you have it? Best stick to what I've been having so far tonight..."

"Got it." He'd have the same. Not that he needed it in the least- David felt fleeting gratitude that he didn't have to go into work the next day; he knew he would probably wake up with a headache no matter how wonderful tonight turned out to be.

As he was fixing their drinks, he heard Jay sneeze twice in the next room, a promising twin set of hushed "huh-eshoo-eshoo"'s, followed by discreet blowing. He smiled to himself and, had Jay seen him at that precise moment, he just might have run out the door.

"Here you are, beautiful!" David handed Jay his drink as he came back in the lounge and sat down next to him on his expensive futon. "Toast?"

Jay raised his glass and smiled mischievously. "SantÚ!"

David paused, curious for no reason other than he was drunk. "What's 'santay' mean?"

Jay giggled, still a little bit tipsy from his sojourn in Cruz 101. "It's French- one of my ex's taught me. Means 'to health'- I reckoned it would be appropriate given my condition tonight."

David laughed in turn. "Excellent. To 'santay' it is, then!"

Crystal clinking was heard before the two men took generous sips of their drinks. David let his hand wander over to the back of Jay's head and stroked the downy hairs on the back of his neck. They looked at each other in silence for a few minutes, slowly ingesting alcohol as Jay's hand meandered down to David's thigh and began exploring the thick ropy muscle that lay hidden beneath the denim.

"You work out, don't you?" he asked casually.

"Yeah, the only exercise I get, really. Apart for dancing, of course, if that counts for anything. You?" He tipped his glass and sipped anew. The drink was too strong; already inebriated, his dosing of proportions between vodka and cola hadn't been very good.

"Me? Nah; I'm such a twig anyway; it wouldn't do me any good. You look great though." Jay flashed David a winning smile, showing off perfect white teeth, precious and uncommon among Englishmen.

"You're not a twig," David said sternly, setting down his empty glass on the table. "I think you're beautiful."

"If I wasn't a twig, you wouldn't say I was beautiful. You'd say handsome or something."

David didn't contradict him. Though he was far from "twiggy", Jay's build was definitely slighter than his own muscular one. They were both quite fit and David was in no mood to start debating the quality of their physique like a couple of old queens in front of the bathroom mirror at some club.

"In any case, I think you're very sexy." He leaned in close and explored the sensitive hollow between Jay's neck and his ear with his tongue. "Finish that drink love," he whispered, nibbling on the younger man's earlobe and grabbing his side, pulling him closer.

Jay did as he was told. His undergraduate days still not too far behind him, he chugged down the rest of his vodka and Coke before cautiously setting his glass down on the glass coffee table in front of David's futon. No sooner had he done this that David was on him, kissing, exploring, and stroking. Clothes melted away as if by magic and within a minute, they were both naked and breathing hard, mouth against mouth, the rough stubble of their chins grating together in a way Jay found incredibly erotic. Jay lost himself in the moment, enjoying the feel of David's body, naked and becoming aroused, pressing against his own. His world was warmth, passion and tongues until he felt an all-too familiar tickle rise again unbidden in the deepest recesses of his left nostril.

Embarrassed, he gently pushed David away. "Sorry, It's just I've really got to... to sn-... Huh-esshhoo!... Sorry, I... Hesshoo!... Esshh!... Huh-eshoo! Damn, I... Eshuh!... Hate this, this... Eshuh!... Eshh! Huh-uh... Huh... Hmm."

The tickle left as abruptly as it had come, leaving Jay slightly dazed and flushed, as much from arousal as from embarrassment.

"God David, I'm so sorry, I swear, I'm just coming down with a bloody cold, is all..."

David pressed his fingers to Jay's lips. "I told you, don't be sorry." This small outburst had turned his slowly rising erection into a full-fledged hard-on of almost painful intensity. He pulled Jay close again and held him tightly, pressing in close so he could feel the full extent of his arousal against his own semi-hardened sex.

"Should we skip that shower?" David breathed, rubbing himself against Jay with infinite slowness and looking into his slightly reddened ice-blue eyes.

Images of naked, shimmering, well-muscled bodies sliding sensually against each other as delightful steam enveloped them swam before Jay's eyes as they had when David had first mentioned said shower. "Nah, let's have one together, you want to? I'm sure it would be fun..." he took David's swollen penis in his hand and squeezed, hard, giving him a look of such intense blue seduction that he actually made the older man feel even hotter than he already was.

"Well then, let's." He got up, his erection bobbing up and down, and pulled Jay up next to him before leading him by the hand down the hall to the spacious bathroom.

There was a separate bathtub and shower stall, a luxury David allowed himself as he made enough of a salary to be able to afford it and considered himself lucky in that, unlike most of his co-workers, he did not have a family to support. The bathroom was decorated with undeniable flair, all in tones of rich cream with maroon and forest-green accents dotted about. A full-length decorative mirror hung on one of the walls and as they passed it, Jay grabbed David and stood poised in front of it.

"We look good together, don't you reckon?" he asked cheekily, playfully tweaking David's erection.

"I'm sure we can be even better than we look," David replied, goosing Jay with a laugh. "Let's hop into that shower, beautiful!"

"There's 'beautiful' again," Jay smiled. And sniffed, David noticed. A second later, Jay turned aside and sneezed, twice, into cupped palms. "Huh-eshoo!... Huh-eshh!" he rubbed at his tender nose, which immediately turned pink, and gave his companion a naughty boy grin as his eyes danced back to the full-length mirror. "Sure. I look like a real beauty right now."

"And you are. Now stop stalling, you're the one who wanted this shower, yeah?" David motioned from inside the shower stall for Jay to join him.

"Yeah." Jay stepped in behind David and the latter initiated a warm stream of water that let a cloud of welcome steam envelop their naked forms.

Letting the warm fluid soak them thoroughly, they embraced and resumed their former hungry kissing. Jay's hand sneaked away and grabbed the bar of soap that was innocuously resting on its stainless-steel wire holder and ran it caressingly over David's broad back. His other hand drew loving circles around his neck and shoulders, helping to spread the lather as their tongues intertwined. His hands glided down towards David's buttocks, spreading soap and warmth as Jay's slender fingers spread cheeks and rubbed the soap playfully up and down the crevice between them. David broke the kiss and laughed softly.

"Tease," he said affectionately.

"Only sometimes," Jay replied, giving him a coy wink before kneeling. "Time to clean the front part now!"

"'The front part'? First time I've heard it called that!" David ruffled Jay's wet hair and let him proceed.

Jay started with David's legs, appreciating the well-defined muscles that lay there. His fingers brushed across their matted fur, spreading lather and love from the man's strong toes up to his firm thighs. When he was through, still kneeling, Jay flashed David a naughty grin and returned to a more stimulating area.

He slowly worked the soap around David's anus and the thick muscle root behind his penis before encircling his balls where he lingered for a moment, cupping them lovingly in his right palm while the left gently drew soapy circles on the firm flesh of the thighs near them. After this, he moved up to the thick length of David's member, which had had time to relax somewhat and was once again resting comfortably against his scrotum. He softly drew the soap along it, giving it a filmy coating, and then reached to place the soap back into its holder. Using both his hands, he massaged David's penis, where blood promptly began rushing anew thanks to his skilful touch. His fingers danced along the shaft, caressing and pulling, while David shut his eyes to better enjoy the experience. He lingered there for a bit before progressing onto the head. By now, David was once again fully erect and his glans had emerged from its former hiding place, hungry and red, a beacon shining out from the mass of bubbles. Jay stroked it unmercifully, playing with David's scrotum at the same time, spreading a cleansing film and sensuous titillation at the same time. He paid special attention to the fraenulum, making David moan as his pleasure increased. Leaning in close, Jay lovingly kissed the tip of David's handsome erection with his velvet lips.

This, it turned out, wasn't the best idea he'd had all day. The combination of steam and the strong scent of the soap got right up his nose and began to wreck havoc. Realizing his mistake, Jay immediately pulled back, but the damage had been done. The mild tickling sensation in the back of his nose, which Jay had mostly managed to keep at bay ever since entering David's flat, seemed to inflate like a balloon. Before he had time to think, he raised a soapy hand to his nose, giving it a good rub and, to his discomfiture, felt the tickle increase almost exponentially.

Jay had never been very good at holding his sneezing in, no matter how awkward the situation, and his nose was really tickling like mad. Sensing something had changed in his partner's movements, David looked down to see Jay's beautifully curved nostrils flaring as a look of intense discomfort spread across his features. His eyes were half-shut in concentration, beautifully heavy-lidded, as his upper lip struggled not to curl upwards. A predatory smile, unseen, crept across David's lips as he watched the young man kneeling before him with both hands around his sex, utterly entranced. He fleetingly wondered which one of them was going to explode first...

"Jay, you all right?" David couldn't help himself, knowing full well that the effort of replying would make the other lose control.

As expected, the question startled Jay out his efforts to stop the sneezes from coming.

"The soap..." he barely had time to choke this out before his head snapped forward, letting out an enormous: "Huh-ESHOO!... ESHOO!... Huh... Huh-huh-ESHOO! Huh-ESH-uh!..."

Amazingly enough, Jay did not let go of David's erection as the sneezes overtook him. On the contrary, his grip tightened, as if to keep him from falling, as he sneezed again and again, directly onto David's rigid penis. "Huh-ESHOO!... ESHOO!... Huh-ESHH!... ESHH!... Huh... Heh-ESHOO!... ESHOO!"

Sneeze after sneeze rocked Jay's body, even as he maintained his grip on David. He drew his head back before each of them brought it down again, a barely visible mist of spray mingling with the shower's steam and landing on David's sex almost as if Jay were aiming for it. This sight, Jay's beautifully sneezy expression and the irregular movements he was making presented an incredibly erotic combination. As well, Jay's hands were relaxing and contracting almost spasmodically in rhythm with his nasal explosions, exciting the avidly staring David to no end as Jay's rough thumb pressed hard against his fraenulum time and time again. "Huh-ESHOO-eshoo!... ESHH!... ESHOO!... Hah... Ha-ESHH!... ESSHUH!... Huh-ESHOO!..."

David couldn't stand it any longer. Jay's sneezing drove him steadily over the edge until he felt semen rising up, up and out of him, hot as lava, each new shot triggering another and oh, God! The spasming seemed endless and he had to reach out to steady himself for fear of falling from the intensity of it.

"Huh-ESSHH!... ESHH!... Huh-ESHOO!... Essh!... Eshoo!... Oh... Unhhhh..."

This low moan signalled the end of the fit and David felt Jay's hold on him relax. Jay's eyes were shut and he suddenly looked only tired, vulnerable and miserable, instead of playful and sensual as he had earlier on. David's warm sperm was dotted on his cheeks, mingled with droplets of water, glistening against his pale skin like opals under the soft steamy light.

David opened his own eyes, which he had shut during his release, and looked down towards Jay. He could still feel small spasms of pleasure coursing through his slowly fading erection, a curious contrast to the shock he felt as he took in his partner's demeanour. Crouched down in front of him, Jay suddenly looked fragile and ill, all energy drained away, his skin looking unnaturally pale through the steam. Seeing the vulnerable expression on the man's face, David crouched down next to him and enfolded him in his strong arms.

"Thank you for that, beautiful. Are you all right?" His tone was soft and filled with tenderness.

"I am so sorry, that was... I can't believe I just did that." Incredibly enough, he turned reddened eyes to David and softly asked: "Did I hurt you?"

David felt something in his own heart split wide open. Were those tears he saw, or the combined effect of the sneezing fit and humidity of the shower? "No!" The denial burst from his lips before he could stop it, unnaturally loud even in spite of the pattering of the water. "No," he started again, more gently this time, hugging Jay tightly. "Not at all. That was really wonderful for me. Thank you."

David leaned close to Jay and kissed him on the lips, suddenly deeply ashamed of himself for enjoying the other's misery so much. Gently, he turned Jay's face towards the water and cleansed it, stroking the other's cheeks with his strong hands. David helped the young man to his feet and drew him close, sharing his soapy coating with him.

Jay only stood there against him, looking tired and listless, putting his arms around David as if he only did it because thought it was the proper thing to do. Sensing this, David took care to rinse them both off and turned the water off.

"Let's get you into bed; you don't seem in peak shape."

This was an understatement if he'd ever heard one. Jay wondered what was weighing him down more, his mortification at having sneezed all over David's naked splendour or his rapidly progressing cold? "I am really, really sorry. Maybe I should just go home, I'll grab a taxi, it's all right. You've been really nice. I'm not feeling too well. And I'm so embarrassed, I can't believe I just did that, you must really... I'm sorry, I just..." He stopped, realizing he was babbling, and simply stared at the wet floor.

David wasn't having any of it. "There's in no way I'm letting you walk out of here like this. You look like you're about to pass out!"

"Eshuh!..." was Jay's tired answer as he raised a now clean hand to rub at his irritated nose. As he did it, he looked about eight years old.

"Right. That's sorted. Come on, I'll show you the bedroom. We'll install the electric heater next to you so you'll be nice and cosy." As an afterthought, feeling another vast wave of guilt, he added: "And we'll open the window next to you so you'll get some nice fresh air into that cute little nose of yours."

"'Kay." The still-blushing Jay was in no mood to protest and meekly allowed David to rub a warm terrycloth towel all over his body, drying off the cooling water that had started to make him shiver in spite of the warm steam that filled the room.

When both of them were dried off, David led the naked Jay into his bedroom and showed him his appealing double bed where the latter immediately collapsed, coughing quietly, making his way under the sheets. As promised, he took out the electric heater and opened the window next to the bed as wide as he could. This would clear away as much allergenic smoke as possible; David's former hunger for the younger man's sneezing had promptly disappeared at the conclusion of that little scene in the shower.

By the time he was finished, he looked back at Jay to find him out cold, sleeping deeply and breathing with difficulty through his now partially congested nose. David shut the lights and slid in next to him, spooning Jay's slender body into his larger one, holding him close and passing on as much warmth as he could. Nestled thus against the naked Jay's cold-fragile sleeping form, David was amazed to find that for the first time in ages, he was actually feeling the first stirrings of genuine love blossom in the deeper recesses of his heart. He would see what he would do about it in the morning; right now, he only wanted to sleep, Jay cuddled against him, warm and safe.