"You want me, Father What-a-Waste," Noah says, calmly, as he cranes his neck to inspect the efficient dressing on his barely-healed gunshot wound.
"What???" Tom's hands still their compulsive smoothing of the fresh bandage and he stares up into the usually dancing pale eyes to confirm what *has* to be another example of his guest's offbeat humor.
The flirtatious agent doesn't blink, doesn't crack a grin to let him off the hook. "You heard me. You want me."
"I do *not*." He yanks away as if he's burned, affronted by the very *idea* of such a thing.
"Of course you do." Noah shrugs, matter-of-factly. "Everybody wants me. I'm a Clayborne. It's genetic."
He laughs, disbelieving, and assures, "I don't want you, and you don't want me," as he gives his medical ministrations a once-over and then rises from his crouch.
"Says who?" The scar beneath the muscled blond's eyebrow tightens, as if holding up the skeptical arch. He's a whore in street tough's clothing...man and woman alike would do well to remember that.
"You were hitting on my sister!" he reminds, sharply, as he moves away.
"So?" Another careless shrug of those wide shoulders. "She's hot as hell. So are you."
He glowers, not finding the excuse satisfactory. "'Hot as hell' isn't exactly what I'm looking for."
The brows quirk suggestively. "Then what ARE you looking for?"
"Nothing! I'm a PRIEST, Noah."
"So, I'm supposed to be celibate!" he reminds.
Scandalous smile. "I always said you should have one day off a week to fuck."
"Well, lucky for you, the Church disagrees."
"The Church isn't here. *We* are."
"And *you* are going to put your shirt back on and *I* am going to go downstairs and say evening prayers." He stops at the threshold, sighs as he shakes his head. "Noah, you've been cooped up in here for a while...I know this isn't the life you're used to. And I understand the restlessness. I really do. But you have to stop this. You're still in recovery from your wound and, who knows, maybe the drugs are affecting your head. Now, goodnight."
"Oh. You think I'm just doing this because I'm bored and I'm crazy and I'm horny, Tommy?" Noah challenges, levering himself up from the couch.
"No, I *know* you are," he assures, dryly.
And suddenly, Noah's eyes are spitting lightning. "You think I don't have a single serious thought in my head, don't you?"
The level of vehemence in the other man's tone is uncharacteristic...sets him off center even as he continues with his light detachment, "Not that I have seen, no."
Noah growls, crossing the space between them with energy an injured man shouldn't have...but he's been surprising Tom a lot lately, hasn't he? His voice drops several octaves, as cold as ice and as deadly as an FBI issue sidearm. "Oh, yeah? Well, I *seriously* want to fuck you. Not your sister. Not anybody else. Just *you*. How's that for serious?"
He swallows hard, forces his gaze away from the demand for confirmation. "Please, put your shirt on!"
Noah doesn't even glance at the article of clothing in question that awaits him hanging on the back of a chair. "Does it bother you, *Father*?" he taunts, defiantly.
"No," he replies quickly. *Too* quickly.
"It doesn't bother you? It doesn't bother you that you are passing me up when I could be your *chance*? When you should be living in the now because you might not get a later?"
He winces. "No, it doesn't bother me," he says, softly, hating the sudden vision of the terror that lives deep inside him. "I have made my peace with cancer."
"Liar," Noah says, harshly. "You're not at peace, Tommy. I can *feel* the mess inside you. You're screaming for someone to take it away. For someone to make you feel something *else* besides fear." And then, perhaps, he regrets it, because his tone turns flirty once more. "Or maybe you're just upset because you're wearing *way* more clothes than I am?"
"I'm wearing my VESTMENTS," he points out, frustrated, oddly grateful for the change in tone...for something he can actually handle.
Or so he thinks.
Until Noah leans close, inspecting him thoroughly from head to toe with an all-knowing, all-encompassing, stare. Too close, too intimate. "So, take 'em off," he suggests, simply.
"I will. After I say my evening prayers," he assures, unevenly, feeling his breaths go shallow despite his best intentions.
A slight shake of the leonine mane. "Uh uh. Not soon enough."
"Noah, I refuse to continue with this conversation."
"Good. Never did like talking much anyway."
"You could've fooled me," he gasps out, with his last vestige of defensive wit. And then it is too late...
Noah is pushing the cassack off of his shoulders, slipping the little white collar off...//Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned...// "How many Hail Marys is this setting me back, Tommy? Huh?"
"Noah, *don't*..." he pleads, helplessly.
Warm breath against his ear. A husky chuckle. "Don't what? Don't touch you like this? Don't want you? Don't make you want me back?"
He shudders. "Noah...my vows--"
"Don't mean squat to me," he cuts in, deftly. "*You* mean something to me. And I know I mean something to you. If they hadn't brought Laurant in, you wouldn't have left my bedside in ICU. You weren't just *praying* for me, Tommy...you were praying for *me*."
"We *CAN'T*. I belong to God," he reminds, struggling to pull out of the agent's firm grip.
But Noah won't let him go. "No way...no, Man. You belong to ME."
He franctically makes the sign of the cross, backing away...on the verge of a "Get thee behind me, Satan" as Noah stalks him up against the wall, slow and sure like a jungle cat...tries to think of his favorite sermons, his favorite verses in the Book...anything but his fingers tangled in that tousled sandy hair.
"This is the way I pray, Tommy. You wanna see me genuflect? I can show you how good I am on my knees," he purrs, seductively.
Tom moans, head hitting the wall much like his resolve. "This isn't good, Noah," he tries. "This is wrong. We can't. *I* can't."
"Why can't you? You want it. You want me."
"I *can't* want you."
"Yes, you can. I feel it. Right now. Right here." The hard pressure of Noah's hand stroking up his thigh, curving around the undeniable, betraying, evidence of his desire. "Right *here*."
A whimper, a sob, mouths colliding. And then, he's falling from grace. Falling, falling, falling, facefirst into the fire. //Forgive me, Father...//
Benediction. Noah's body against his is benediction. A blessing. And a curse. He has always felt the light of God's love shining down on him. Is it a sin that he has never felt it more strongly than now, while holding Noah clasped securely in his embrace? Bright, blinding, hot, and overwhelming.
Something this beautiful, this singular, can't be a sin, he thinks, dizzily....knowing he's rationalizing but not caring. Not caring about anything except Noah's lips, Noah's tongue, Noah's feverish hands on his skin.
Even as his mind races, his tongue betrays him further. "Don't stop, Noah, don't ever stop..."
"I'm not going to, Baby...not ever going to..."
They stumble...hips slam into end tables and lamps are knocked over. But the brief pain is nothing...nothing compared to the glorious agony of this ecstasy. Noah is wrapped around him like a climbing vine, his teasing lips finally occupied with something far more worthwhile than quips and catcalls. And his hands, the hands that have wrought so much destruction, have found a new purpose.
"Are you happy?" he asks, suddenly bitter, as those hands bring him low. "Are you happy now?"
And Noah pulls back...laughing eyes suddenly somber. "Not yet, Tom," he whispers, tenderly, stroking his cheek with the backs of his fingers. "But I will be."
Then, the damnable lips cover his once more and words like honor, obligation, sin, and chastity, cease to have any meaning. Nothing has meaning except this one moment. This one man in his arms. Nothing else could possibly be as wrong. Or feel this right.
Later, much later, as he's tangled in cast-aside clothes and rugs and man, he remembers those good intentions, those evening prayers.
And he murmurs "Thank you, God, for this wonderful bastard," into the sweat-soaked curls at the base of Noah's neck as he drifts off to sleep.
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