There was a sort of quiet in Jasper’s house that William was almost sure didn’t bode well. In fact, if there had been anyone with him — a friend or something, say — he would likely have leaned closer to said friend and murmured ‘This doesn’t bode well.’ As there was no such friend, William could only grit his teeth and close the door behind him.
The near silence, in and of itself, was worrisome, if William was being honest. Jasper usually had some sort of music playing, at the very least, though rarely loud enough to hinder conversation. The fact that there was nothing other than the soft rasp of… William didn’t know what, but it sounded a bit like sandpaper on leather.
“Jasper?” he called out, his own voice loud enough to make him jump. “You here, man?”
Jasper was. William didn’t have a single doubt about that. And even though they’d reached a stage in their relationship where William didn’t feel at all strange about walking into Jasper’s house when the door was unlocked, he figured it was still just plain old good form to announce his presence.
“I’m grabbing a beer, you want something?” William said next, because yeah. Polite. His Grams would whack him with her cane of she ever found out he wasn’t. Even with Jasper. Even with William having seen Jasper naked, more often than not.
He noticed the sudden sound of music starting, soft and low. He even noticed that the weird rasping noise was coming closer, but William was more struck, right then, by the dirty coffee mug sitting on the kitchen counter beside the refrigerator. Jasper wasn’t exactly uptight, most days, but he never left dirty dishes sitting around, and especially not outside of the sink.
“You know,” William said as the rasping noise sounded in the kitchen, “I can tell there’s something wrong, man. And whatever it is? It’s got you acting against your usual fastidious nature. So what gives?” He opened the refrigerator and grabbed a beer, along with one of the single-glass sized bottle of Chardonnay before turning around.
When he did turn, and saw Jasper on the other side of the tiled island that served as counter space and table, both, William had to fight the extremely strong urge to laugh.
Jasper’s short, dark blond hair was a mess, sticking up and out and it even looked matted in places. His usually glowing, sun-gold skin was streaked with what looked like dirt and dust, and his pants… Well, William had never seen Jasper looking so rumpled. Not even the time Jasper had helped William change a flat tire.
“Oh, man,” he murmured, still holding in the laugh that wanted out. “What happened to you?”
It was a telling sign that something was very wrong, William knew, when Jasper grabbed the small bottle of wine without even a thank you, unscrewed the tiny cap and drank directly from the glass neck.
“Seriously, man, you’re starting to worry me.” It was true, too. The inclination to laugh was almost entirely gone. “Talk to me, Jasper!”
“Rodents,” Jasper finally snarled, like someone else would have said terrorists or pedophiles or murderers. “My home is infested with rodents. I believe them to be accessing the premises via a possible breach under the bed. It’s… I am furious, William! How dare they invade my place of residence? It is sheer, unadulterated arrogance that they would not only consider it but choose to put such an horrific plan in action!”
Well, if Jasper had been poking around under the bed, that would explain the hair… and possibly the smears on his skin, William admitted silently. Of course, he had no idea why Jasper was so sure it was ‘rodents.’
“Did you see them, Jasper? Or just hear them? Because if you only heard them, they might not be…”
Jasper’s head shook again as William trailed off. “I saw them,” he answered, still snarling though the wine seemed to have steadied him a bit. “Or to be more accurate, I saw one of the vile creatures. It glared at me with its vicious, beady eyes, William. It was… horrifying and I want them out! I can’t abide the notion of climbing from bed some morning with random rodents wandering about! What if I stepped on one? It is… too terrible to even contemplate! I would have to… I don’t know quite what I would do, but amputation is not entirely out of the question.”
Of all the things William could have imagined, the idea of Jasper being afraid of some little furry thing hadn’t even been on the list. Even so, he tried not to grin the way he wanted to. Knowing Jasper had a weakness was… kind of cool, actually.
“Okay,” William said quickly, pulling another tiny bottle of wine from the fridge and handing it over before finally opening his own beer. “It’s not the end of the world, honey. I’m pretty sure Grams has some rat traps on her back porch. It was a rat, right?” Except maybe not, because Jasper’s eyes were suddenly huge and it didn’t look like the man was really breathing.
“Good Lord, no! Nothing so fierce! I. It was…” Jasper swallowed hard and opened the new mini-bottle, taking a long swing that drained it by half. “It was a mouse.” The word was whispered, as though saying it any louder would act as a summons. “A horrible, vicious, probably rabid mouse, William. Hideous!”
The were a hundred things William could have said then, and he knew it. They ranged from the obvious — you’re so much bigger, I’m sure it’s scared to death by your size alone — to the condescendingly protective — don’t worry, Jasper, I won’t let the wicked, bad mousy get you. And either of those, along with most of the possibilities in between, would have Jasper even more out of sorts, William knew.
Instead of speaking just then, he took a sip of his beer, then another. Moved around the island to Jasper’s side, which was when he saw that the rasping sound he’d heard earlier hadn’t been leather at all, but the two loofah sponges Jasper had tied to his feet.
“They are rather more disposable than actual footwear,” Jasper said defensively when he saw William looking. “I simply couldn’t bear to… That is, once I knew those repulsive little creatures had been trodding upon my floor, leaving behind the… evidence of their passage, I…”
He pouted. Jasper actually pouted. It was… kind of hot, in a weird sort of way, William decided, though Jasper likely wouldn’t appreciate it if William said so.
“Um… well.” William wrapped his arms carefully around his lover, holding the larger man close. “I’ll tell you what, honey. Why don’t we pack a few things for you… like shoes, maybe… and we’ll go stay with Grams for a couple days. I can call for an exterminator to take care of the… mouse situation.”
Jasper nodded, swallowed hard enough that William could feel it against his cheek. “They… they won’t cause any permanent damage to the… evil, disgusting little beasts, will they?”
And that was Jasper, William reminded himself with a purely internal grin. The man might be scared of mice; might even hate them, but really Jasper just wanted them out of his house. “Nah,” he said easily. “I’ll ask them to use those things that trap them so they can be set free back in the wild, okay? And I’ll get George to come in and find out where they’re coming from. Block the access. I’m sure the offer of cash will have him leaving that floating monstrosity out on the lake. What’s that song, again? Redneck Yacht Club? It’ll be fine, Jasper. Promise, okay?”
Jasper pulled away and offered up a sheepish looking smile. “I… I’m afraid that I must apologize, William. I am rather aware of how ridiculous this must all seem to you. It’s merely that I have what one might refer to as an unfortunate history with rodents. Particularly smallish ones.” He shuddered slightly, then relaxed a bit more when William stroked his bare chest. “I fear that my… past experiences have created a rather low tolerance for sharing my home with such.”
William chuckled, his earlier laugh finally finding its way free. “It’s fine, babe. Seriously. Hell, it’s pretty damned heartening to realize that maybe you’re not quite as thoroughly self-sufficient as you usually seem. Like you… I don’t know. Need me, just a little.” He grinned, meeting Jasper’s surprised eyes. “It’s kind of hot, man.”
Jasper blinked, then blinked again, and when one big hand slid from William’s back, then pressed over what was fast becoming a very hard bulge in his jeans, William moaned. Quietly, but still.
“Shall I tell you that I also have no great affection for spiders, William?” Jasper murmured then. “I wouldn’t have you believe me the sort of person who loathes on a whim, but arachnid forms are rather disturbing. And marsupials. I have an aversion to those, as well.”
God, he was getting harder by the second, William realized. “Uh-huh… always good to know, Jasper. God.”
Jasper’s hand moved, then the other hand joined in, pulling each of the buttons of William’s fly free of the loops. “Have I mentioned previously just how much I appreciate your disregard for certain conventions?” Jasper whispered beside his ear and William groaned.
“Yeah,” he managed to say, most of his attention on the way Jasper’s hand was dipping into the front of his jeans. The way those long fingers felt wrapped around his cock. “You’re a fan of the whole no underwear thing. Got that the first day we met, babe. Oh, fuck. Don’t stop. Love your hands, man.”
The next thing William knew, he was sitting on the kitchen counter, jeans around his ankles. And Jasper was… oh, Jasper had that look in his eyes. “I shut the bedroom door.” Jasper nearly purred the words. “I believe it shall contain my unwelcome… guests.”
Less than a moment later, William was glad he hadn’t disagreed because there was nothing — and he did mean nothing — quite as good as Jasper’s mouth. Aside from Jasper’s ass, of course. And cock.
But that was for later, William told himself as he let the sensation of lips and tongue and wet heat surround him. After they got rid of Jasper’s mice, one of which was sitting bold as day in the kitchen doorway, twitching nose and whiskers for a moment before scampering off.
* * *