Continued… from yet another word prompt at the TQ Social LJ. *grins*
* * *
The Irregular Regular, part 2
Dan was still in his pajamas at eleven o’clock on Tuesday morning. Not because he was having second thoughts about meeting Berg for their date, but because he was the one who’d said ‘whatever you want, that’s what we’ll do,’ or words to that effect.
“And why the hell didn’t I try to find out what that would be?” Dan grumbled, biting his lip as he stared at the clothes he’d laid out on his bed. “Because I was too psyched about even going out with him in the first place. Duh.”
Christ, he was pathetic, Dan decided, though he couldn’t quite manage to suppress the grin he knew was spreading across his lips. Not only hadn’t he asked Berg what they’d be doing that day, but he hadn’t even thought about getting the guy’s phone number the night they’d made their… date.
“Because I didn’t want to push,” he’d told his coworker and sometimes-friend Ryan that same night. “I sort of get the feeling that I might scare him off if I do.” Ryan had rolled his eyes and muttered something Dan suspected was catty and bitchy under his breath and that had been the end of that.
Dan sighed again and shook his head, staring again at the clothes he had to choose from, which sadly hadn’t sorted themselves into ‘wear for the date’ piles all on their own. “Crap. I don’t have a single flippin’ clue.” About anything, really, not just where he and Berg would be going. In fact, he didn’t even know whether Berg had read his reluctance to make the first move properly, Dan realized. Hell, for all he knew, Berg thought Dan was all toppy and dominant just because Dan was bigger, broader, more muscled than the slender redhead himself.
“Good,” Dan muttered, finally grabbing faded but non-holed jeans, a red T-shirt and a pull-over sweater from the mattress. “One more thing to worry about. Fan-flippin’-tastic.”
A quick shower, during which Dan tried and failed at keeping his one good hand from certain regions of his own body, a short, sharp cry and maybe ten minutes in front of the mirror, using product after product in an effort to make his hair look silken and wavy rather than the bad kind of messy, and Dan got dressed. Another minute or so took him to the door, the soles of his boots making small shushing sounds against the wooden floor.
He was ready, God help him… or as ready as he’d ever be, anyway, and that would have to be good enough. He only hoped he didn’t screw things up.
* * *
Oh, man. Dan looked really good. That was all Bergen could think for about the first thirty seconds after he saw the guy standing in front of the coffee shop. Dan looked really, really good. The red shirt made his eyes brighter, even more blue than they usually looked… or maybe it was the sunlight. Berg couldn’t be sure.
“Hi,” he said carefully, still trying not to freak out. He’d been fine the night they’d made their date, but every day since, Bergen had spent at least a few minutes wondering whether Dan would even show. Dan was pretty damned stunning, after all, and while Bergen knew he wasn’t prone to random bouts of insecurity, he still wondered whether there was any point to the whole thing. Dan would likely run away as soon as he found out about Bergen’s past.
“Berg. Hi,” Dan answered and the smile that spread across the guy’s full lips pushed that thought and pretty much any other from Berg’s mind. “I… sorry. I didn’t know what we were doing, so… am I dressed okay? I can go home and change. I mean, you look really good and I’m kind of maybe too casual, so I could. I don’t mind. I mean…”
Yeah, Bergen remembered that babble from he other night. It was still damnably cute, too. Especially when added to the small blush he saw rising beneath Dan’s tanned cheeks. Even so, Bergen looked down at himself, at the creased tan slacks and brown shoes; the white button down shirt and dark brown belt.
“Honestly?” Berg said with a smile, “I just wanted to wear something comfortable, and… remember I told you I’m off on Tuesdays? Well, I didn’t have a chance to do laundry so this… is pretty much all I had left that was clean.” His face was warmer, suddenly. Matching the pink of Dan’s, Bergen was sure. “Um. So. How’s your. I mean, your um, wrist?”
Dan bit his lip, the fullness of the bottom one sliding between teeth and Berg forced himself not to stare. Forced himself to stay where he was, rather than stepping closer to take that pink flesh between his own teeth and nips until Dan begged for… No. He wasn’t going to think about it. Not then. “First date,” Berg muttered to himself. And maybe last date if he didn’t pull himself together.
“What?” Dan frowned, but that lip had popped out so that was good. Less… tempting.
“Nothing,” Bergen said with a shaky grin. “So, um… what did you want to do? I was thinking we could have lunch or something. Maybe catch a movie. But it’s up to you, Dan.” Because what Bergen was really thinking was something more along the lines of ‘maybe we could go get naked, but then that’d be all this is and I don’t want that but I don’t know what you want so lunch might be safer’.
Dan’s head cocked to the side, as though he was thinking, so Bergen just smiled and tried to look calm. “Sounds good,” Dan finally said, “I’m not a big fan of horror movies, though, so if we could… I don’t know. Maybe not see one of those? They uh, freak me out, sort of.”
Bergen smiled, bigger this time. “They’re not really my thing either,” he admitted as they started to walk down the street. “There’s enough nasty, freaky stuff to worry about already. The last thing I need is nightmares about things that aren’t even real.”
Dan moved a little bit closer then. Only half a step or so, but it was enough for Bergen to feel the guy’s knuckles brush against his own as their arms swung, and it was… cool. Nice. Nowhere near to being enough, but a good start.
* * *
Lunch was good. Even when he’d fumbled his fork, Berg hadn’t laughed or made fun of him, unlike Ryan, who had some lame comment to make every single time Dan so much as sloshed a little coffee from one of the shop’s mugs. Instead, Berg had just smiled and offered a few extra napkins. Had ordered a club soda so Dan could get the worst of the mustard that had landed on his shirt.
The movie, which had been some comedy or other that Dan hadn’t really paid attention to, had been… well, Dan didn’t know if it had been good or not. He’d spent most of the time sneaking glances at Berg from the corner of his eye. Breathing in his scent, though he didn’t think it was cologne anymore. Maybe some sort of essential oil.He was pretty sure he’d caught Berg looking back, a time or two, too.
Either way, Dan figured he was lucky that Berg hadn’t caught him sniffing, but Dan couldn’t help it. Berg always smelled so damned good. Exotic. He even looked it, with his red hair, pale skin and deep, dark eyes. Berg still looked sort of scared and sad, sometimes, but mostly he’d looked glad to be out with Dan, which was… yeah. Nice. More than.
“So…” Dan began, just as Berg said “I was thinking… Sorry. What were you saying?”
Dan shook his head, smiling just a little. “Nothing. I just… okay, I was thinking this has been fun and I know it’s usually food, then movie, then ‘see you later’ but I don’t really want to say goodbye yet, so I thought we could maybe go do something else. I guess… maybe ice cream or something, my treat because you’ve paid for everything else and I was thinking it would be cool if we just like sat and… talked, maybe? Uh, not if you don’t want to, but I really do like you so I figured…”
Berg laughed, that little bit of sad going away for a minute. “You know, I thought maybe you were nervous when you did that before, but now I’m starting to think it’s just the way you talk. But don’t worry,” he added, “I think… I like it, Dan.”
Dan forced himself to take a deep, slow breath. “I… sorry. And you’re right. It’s… nerves. I just don’t date much and we talked over lunch but not in the movie, so I guess I just wanted to get to know you a little. You know, so if you don’t want to go out again, I’ll at least feel like we did something other than sit in the dark?” And yes. There was a reason Dan didn’t date much. Because he came off like a huge goober when he really liked someone, as he was being reminded of right then.
Berg looked confused for a second or two, but then he laughed again. Laughed and took Dan’s hand, which had Dan blushing, but in the good way. “I like you, too, in case that wasn’t completely obvious,” Berg said, tugging his hand until Dan started down the street, still blushing but still grinning, as well. “And I’m the one who asked you out, so I’m buying the ice cream. What’s your favorite flavor?”
Okay, that was a relief, Dan told himself, even as he answered. “I’m sort of a big fan of the kind with the chopped up peanut butter cups mixed in. I know it’s for kids, but it’s good!” Oh, check it out. No babble there, thank God.
“I sort of figured you were a fan of the peanut.” Berg’s fingers gripped his more tightly. “You had this look in your eyes when you tried to talk me into that chocolate and peanut butter danish the other night. It was kind of cute. Then again, so are you.”
“Only kind of?” Dan darted a glance at Berg, then winked when he caught the man’s eyes. His laugh echoed berg’s and it was a damned fine sound.
“Yes, only ‘kind of’ cute,” Berg shifted just a little closer as they walked, until their shoulders touched. “Most of the time, I just think you’re really hot, instead of cute, Dan.” Berg was blushing this time, his face going a soft rose color that Dan wanted to touch, to taste. It looked good on him.
“Oh. Uh. You too, Berg. Hot, I mean. Duh. But that blush… yeah, that’s on the cute side. Definitely.”
Berg looked happy to hear it, no matter that he just shrugged and said “I know.”
* * *
Favorite color,” Bergen asked, once they’d gotten their ice cream. Peanut butter cup for Dan and something called Koala Nut for himself. He’d never tried it before, but it was good. Vanilla with chopped macadamias, almonds and cashews that were purportedly grown in Australia, which Bergen figured explained the name, maybe.
“Red,” Dan answered. “Favorite actor?”
Bergen didn’t even need to think about that one. “Tie. The guys from Supernatural.”
“Oh, God. Yes.” Dan nodded, plastic spoon digging deep into the one and a half scoops left in his cup. “Car?”
“Fifty-seven Thunderbird convertible. Fins. What can I say? You?”
Dan blushed for probably the tenth time, as far as Bergen could remember. Not that he’d been counting or anything. “Uh, you’ll probably laugh, but I really like those little Smart cars. They’re cute, you can park them anywhere and they get really good mileage.”
Bergen laughed, reaching across the small table to squeeze Dan’s hand, only to stop at the little hiss he heard. “Oh, shit. Sorry. I forgot. I thought it was just your wrist. Shit!” What the fuck had he been thinking? Jesus.
“It’s okay,” Dan said then, sounding serious and insistent as he placed his damaged hand over Bergen’s. “You didn’t hurt me. It’s just… between work and stuff, I’m compensating for my wrist and some of the things I’ve been doing sort of make my hand hurt. You know. The metatarsals. Wait, that’s feet. Metacarpals, I mean. Um, the bones in the back of my hand?”
After that, Bergen paid more attention to what he was doing. He had no intention of hurting Dan if he could help it. He really did like the guy, even more than he’d thought.
It didn’t hurt that Dan was smarter than Bergen had thought. The guy was studying to be a physical therapist, for God’s sake. So he was smart and fun and built like… well, built like a few guys Bergen had known before, but those guys hadn’t been anything like as nice as Dan. And Dan… well, for all that he was a big guy, he was gentle, too, and seemed to be reluctant to take any sort of lead.
That trend continued as they wandered after finishing their ice cream. Dan was happy enough to hold Bergen’s hand as they walked, but only if Bergen took the step of joining them. He was willing to stop in at whatever shops Bergen wanted, Dan’s own suggestions couched in very non-demanding terms.
It was strangely endearing, Bergen decided, and even more so when Dan asked Bergen to walk him home hours later, after more wandering and dinner and cocktails at one of the bars near the coffee shop. Bergen had pretty much blown all his spare cash on their day but he didn’t care. It was worth it.
It was more than worth it when they were standing in front of Dan’s building, hands still joined, and Dan’s eyes kept darting from Bergen’s eyes to his mouth and back again. Dan wasn’t making a move, though, and Bergen was pretty sure of what that meant, after the day they’d had.
“I had a good time today,” Bergen murmured, his eyes locked on Dan’s bright blue gaze. “It’ll be even better if you let me kiss you goodnight, though.”
Dan’s lips twitched, going from slightly curved to fully bowed and Bergen nodded to himself then leaned in.
His mouth brushed Dan’s lightly. Once, twice, then once more… and then Bergen let go of Dan’s hand and pulled Dan closer, fingers tight on Dan’s narrow hips, strong chest muscles under red cotton pushing hard against Bergen’s shirt as he pressed hard, tongue demanding access that was granted without hesitation.
Deep and hard and wet, and Bergen almost wanted to push more. Wanted to tell Dan they were going upstairs together. Wanted to move too fast, too soon into something that wouldn’t be a relationship; something that wouldn’t be much different from what Bergen was hiding from in the first place. And Dan… Dan deserved better, damn it.
Even with that knowledge racing through his mind, it took everything Bergen had to convince his body. When he finally managed it, the sight of Dan’s kiss-bruised lips, soft and pink and full, nearly destroyed his conviction. That Dan was holding on just as tightly, injured wrist and all, wasn’t helping, either.
“Stop,” Bergen murmured, and if he’d had any question about whether his read on Dan was wrong, the way the man immediately released him would have cleared it up. “God. Dan. That’s… yeah. Your mouth is amazing. And I want to see you again. But if I don’t leave now, that isn’t ever going to happen. Shit.”
Dan frowned, and God knew what he was thinking because Bergen for damned sure didn’t. “I… you could come inside,” Dan suggested, his voice soft and sounding nearly as bruised as his lips. “I mean, I really like you, Berg, and we could…”
“No.” Bergen knew he sounded harsh, but there was only so much temptation he could stand. “If I come inside, we’ll be naked in less than a minute. And you know what happens next.” He shook his head. “I don’t want. Shit, I. Look, Dan. I don’t want you to be a one night stand, okay? So I’m leaving now. And I’m coming to the coffee shop tomorrow after work. Maybe you could take your break when I get there.”
Dan’s frown slowly became another smile, small but pleased; maybe even surprised. “I… okay, Berg,” Dan answered, his voice more whisper than anything else. “Just tell me you’ll come inside one day soon.”
Very damned soon, Bergen promised himself a few minutes later, as he made his way toward the room he had above Federer’s shop. Very damned soon. He could see it in his head already, and he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to do every single thing he was imagining. Once he finished wooing Dan, anyway.
He was humming softly when he reached his street and turned the corner, so caught up in the plans he was making for his and Dan’s second date that he didn’t even notice the truly huge man leaning against the wall next to the side door of the building. It was only when he heard the man’s voice that Bergen stopped. Froze. Stared.
“Grady.” Low, grating tone, like broken glass and sawdust. The last voice Bergen wanted to ever hear again. “It’s time you stopped this bullshit, Grady, and got back to work.”
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