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It didn’t take long for anxiety to set in. Once Sarah was no longer right there, it was hard to stifle the conviction that I was cheating on her, that she’d object, that she’d kick me out of the house or worse. I tried to remind myself that she’d been right there and said it was okay, tried to catch some lingering trace of her scent, but it was an uphill fight for sure.

It also didn’t take Sam long to notice, sliding his fingers along my jaw. “What’s wrong?” came his inquiring murmur.

“Nothing,” I replied, not quite able to contain my frustration that I was getting wound up despite knowing there was nothing wrong. “Just being neurotic.”

He sighed, his hand moving to my shoulder and giving it a squeeze. “Damn. I’m sorry for that.”

Somehow, that snapped me out of my paranoia – at least for the moment – better than anything I’d come up with on my own. Or at least it distracted me. I blinked. “How are you responsible for me being a nutcase?” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little.

He, however, didn’t laugh in the slightest. “I really should have let you get used to the notion first. Sarah had some choice words for me about not making damn sure you knew what was going on, and she was right. I just thought… hell, I wasn’t thinking.” There was an uncomfortable pause; then, “I just wanted you so much, I knew Sarah did too, and there you were, convinced that nobody would or could ever be interested in you. It… it hurt, to see you like that. And maybe I’m getting too attached too fast – ” after that moment of hesitation, his words tumbled out in a rush, hardly giving me a chance to hear them, much less respond – “but damn it, you’ve been a friend. For that alone you deserved better than to just… collapse, or spend even one minute thinking you were something other than damn fine.” He cut off abruptly, tensing under me. “This probably isn’t helping you to not be weirded out, is it?”

“It’s not what I’m used to,” I admitted. “If I stop to think about it, it all sounds good. Better than the normal way of doing it. But I’ve had drilled into me pretty much all my life that you’re supposed to find your special someone and that’s that. Knowing there’s another way to do it – even thinking it’s a better way – it still kind of doesn’t want to sink in.”

“That’s a shame,” he sighed, and some exaggerated good humour crept into his voice – not forced, I didn’t think, so much as making plain that he was kidding around – as he went on, “Sinking in is something I’d kinda like you to do. Sarah certainly enjoyed it!”

I didn’t really have a good reply ready for that – I just blushed for a few moments – but at least it didn’t bring my insecurities back in force. Maybe it was the way it reinforced that both of them were in on it. Which, even then, I realized was pretty awesome even if it was so far from my usual that I was still in denial.

“I, uh… guess I could try?” I hazarded at last. It wasn’t as though fretting about it was getting me anywhere. Maybe if I actually made the choice to up and do it…

Sam’s breath caught. He shivered under me, very slightly, but enough to feel through my shoulders. “Well, if you’re game, God knows I am.”

“I don’t know how to go about it, though,” I cautioned. “I mean, sure, I know what goes where and roughly where everything is, but actually doing it…”

“Don’t worry.” He nuzzled between my ears. “I’ll guide you through it.”

I started to reach for the condoms on the end table and was somewhat surprised when he touched my arm. “If you want to cover up, Tim, I won’t blame you or stop you. It’s a good habit. But the only reason we had you do it before is because it was with her.” His free hand squeezed my shoulder. “Same objection doesn’t really apply here, you know? So it’s your call.”

He was right. It was a good habit to get into. It would probably be the wisest thing to do, and it wasn’t as though it made sex unenjoyable. But, damn it, I didn’t want to. I could rationalize all day long – maybe I wanted to trust them, or already did, or maybe I didn’t want a physical layer of separation after I’d been working so hard – even subconsciously – to put up emotional barriers. But the honest truth is that I just plain wanted to go bareback. I did trust him to know he was clean, and that was all the opening I needed.

He guided me, instead, to the drawer below and a bottle of lube. Getting it required me to no longer be lying on top of him – a silly thing to worry about, given that at the very least I’d need to turn over, but damn it, it had felt nice to be there, neurosis aside. Anyway, I squeezed a good dollop of the stuff onto my fingers. It was a little cool, when I actually started smearing it on, but not in any way that registered at the time as uncomfortable.

When I turned back, he’d propped up his knees, and proceeded to pull them right up against himself. The implication was pretty clear; I planted my knees on either side of his tail, trying not to kneel on any of his fur. He had enough flexibility in him to get a hand down to guide me, and I wasn’t completely clueless, so I could do some of the work myself.

And he made it abundantly clear when I’d found the right spot. Not by words, but, well, shivering, groaning, grabbing my sides, and pulling me toward him sure got the point across.

I’m not even going to bother comparing it to sex with a girl. It was snug, it was warm, and it felt good. I didn’t stop until there was no further to go, and even then I didn’t want to stop.

It really didn’t hurt that that massive pole of his was rigid against my stomach, and along with his heavy breathing and roaming hands was making very plain to me how much he enjoyed it all.

After a few moments of grinding and rocking, that initial urge did fade somewhat; not entirely, but enough that I could bear to push against his chest and kneel a little closer to upright. His hand slid past my shoulder as it did, cupping under my chin for a moment before I drew out of reach, looking down over him, getting a crazy, breathless grin back in turn.

That grin got a little more wide-eyed when my hands moved down and in.

It felt almost as good to just have my hands around him as it did to actually be inside him. I felt clumsy – the angle was all off from anything I’d done with myself, and he filled my hands a lot more than I ever could – but he certainly wasn’t complaining.

“God.” I leaned back a little more – about as much as I dared; it wasn’t an uncomfortable bend downward yet, but I didn’t want to try pushing much farther – and stared down the length of the skunk’s shaft, tracing the rim of his broad glans, then down and past its base, into the thick fur, over his balls. “On edge already? Thought that’d be me.”

Apparently that lean made me hit something nice, because it drew a whimper such as I’ve never heard such a big guy make, even before my hands wandered. “God. I’ve – ah – I’ve been having dreams about this for weeks,” Sam panted. He pushed himself up on one arm, squeezing my shoulder with the other hand. “And I started a bit… mmmm… sensitive. Stamina… will have to wait…”

“That’s fine.” My throat felt dry; I swallowed, though that really didn’t help much. And I dared trying to lean back a bit farther still, curling inward as I did. The angle meant my cockhead was pressing fairly firmly against his flesh; even with only the shallow rocking I was able to do, I doubted I was going to last long either. I kept working at his, though, feeling it buck against my fingers, hearing his escalating pants and groans – and did he ever shiver when I got my tongue against his cock.

Whatever he was trying to say at that point, I wasn’t able to hear it; he didn’t get a single word out, and even if he had, I’m not sure I’d have made it out, too focused on the heady taste and scent of him, of his heat around my own rod, of the urgent noises he made, on his sudden surge as climax hit.

The sudden arch in his body actually pulled me an inch or two free before I could shove back in. The motion of his cock was… well, probably not so great in absolute terms, but I certainly noticed it more. Especially when a few pulses of white flowed over the black skin. The sight of it, the knowledge that I was getting someone off – that was pretty powerful in itself; if I wasn’t used to getting another guy off yet, well, at least it was unequivocal.

But it was the smell of it that tipped me over. I’ve always kind of enjoyed the smell of semen, but usually it was in the satisfied haze of my own afterglow. This…

Well, I was pretty shivery myself for a few moments. Not the most intense climax I’ve had – some of my daydream sessions about him and Sarah probably held that title – but in a way, that was nice; it made it easier to appreciate the way he moved as he came down from his own climax.

I had enough presence of mind to pull out before I got oversensitive – and by the spike of sensation when his fur happened to brush my shaft, as I cuddled up alongside him, I was definitely getting oversensitive this time. That was okay; I got over the shivers, nestled against him, and leaned my head against his chest, listening to his breathing and the racing of his heart, each calming down measure by measure.

“Mmmnf… damn,” Sam sighed, and unlike in the earlier conversation, there wasn’t a bit of distress to it. “I hope I get the chance to do a proper job of this with you, sometime, preferably soonish.” His fingers nudged around the base of my ears. “I really wanted that, tiger. Normally not got so short a fuse…”

“Hey…” I pawed at his chest a little. “It’s not like I lasted any longer myself.”

He laughed, tousling my hair. “Well, maybe we can both last a little longer sometime. Not booking an appointment, but… if you ever think you have an opening again…”

“I’ll certainly keep it in mind,” I said, and swallowed again. Now I was pretty sure it wasn’t just anticipation or nerves making my throat dry. “Uh, this is a little more prosaic than I was hoping, but… maybe we could get something to drink?”

Chuckling, he eased me off himself, swinging upright and indulging in a brief stretch. Sitting beside him, I was freshly struck by just how far apart we were, physically; and yet, as his arm settled down for a squeeze around my shoulders, that didn’t feel like such a bad thing. And then he nuzzled between my ears and got up to his feet. “Something to drink sounds good, yeah – been pretty busy up here, after all.” He glanced over his shoulder at me – what he was looking for, I don’t know exactly, but after apparently sizing me up, he leaned into the closet and pulled out two things, tossing one of them my way. “Here.”

The bathrobe was presumably Sarah’s – it was a bit large on me, but I wasn’t lost in it like I would be in the one that he donned. Not that I would have made it for a woman’s robe if I hadn’t known the pair of them – it was just a functional robe, soft, loose-fitting, slate grey. She obviously knew how to dress to advantage, but apparently Sarah went for functional stuff too.

“I almost expected you to just lead the way as-is,” I observed as I followed him down the stairs.

“Mmm. I might have done. But recent events notwithstanding,” a bit of a self-deprecating chuckle, “I am trying to go easy on you, Tim. You’re still looking a bit overwhelmed.”

There was a bit of a pause in the conversation as Sarah, freshly washed and, in fact, still smelling slightly damp, dashed down the stairs and called out a farewell. We hardly had time to return it before she was out the door. “Huh. Quick exit. I didn’t think she’d taken very long, it’s not like we did…”

“No,” he laughed, “but I don’t think she wanted to take the chance that we were naked. Wouldn’t want to distract herself. But yeah.” He leaned over to stroke along my jaw – that felt nice; I leaned into it, and maybe purred a little – as he set a glass of iced tea down in front of me. “You’re a good catch, Tim. We don’t want to tie you down or keep you from moving on in your own life – but damn, while we can, we’ll be glad to have you sharing ours.”

I’d just drawn breath to say something to that when I heard a phone ring. Not the one in the living room – this one was from some other room.

“That’s my work phone,” the skunk said, rising up to his feet with a soft grunt. “Hopefully I’ll be able to get this mess somewhat straightened out. Sit tight, drink up – assuming it’s who I think it is, I’ll tell you how things stand when I’m done.” I managed a quick nod, and he dashed out of the room.

I took the opportunity to sip my iced tea; there really wasn’t much else to do. In another room – one I hadn’t ever been in, I don’t think, by where the sound of his voice was coming from – I heard Sam answer the phone; his voice was too muffled for me to make out words, but there was some definite tension in his voice after the initial greeting. Picking up my glass, I took a peek around the bookshelves. Not a very in-depth one – I wasn’t really that well-focused – but enough to see a few familiar and well-liked names and even titles. They had a much larger collection than I did, of course – they must have been a nuisance to move; there were more bookshelves in their living room than would fit in my room at the townhouse.

As I continued my circuit, I heard Sam’s voice get a bit softer, as though some point of contention were settled. I didn’t really dare to hope for much from it, but maybe I’d at least be able to get some answers. Too late to do much for my situation, though it might make things a bit easier to have a sense of closure.

Coming by the computer, I noticed that the USB stick I’d brought a while back was still resting on the desk. It was an odd feeling – a reminder of the work I wouldn’t get to do again, sure, but it also brought to mind the time we’d had getting it set up, me sitting on Sam’s leg. I could’ve felt him up so easily, from there. Or even just shuffled back a bit.

I wondered what it might be like to sit like that, only naked. I could even shift over to sit right across his lap. Or sit right on his…

I shivered, hard, as a rush of longing swept over me. Well, at least I seemed to be getting over my notion that it’d be cheating on one or the other of them, because there wasn’t even a twinge of guilt to be had there. I had no idea if he’d fit – after all, Sarah, bigger than me and using parts that were better suited, had said she had trouble – but damn, I was suddenly eager to try.

The thought fled my mind as quickly as it had arrived, though, at the sound of a phone being hung on its cradle. It was back to practical matters – to how I was going to get by without a job, how I could hope to find another without so much as a reference… I was back in freak-out mode in record time, and didn’t even notice Sam coming my way until he was right behind me.

That embrace was a bit comforting to lean back into, though. I took a breath, trying to compose myself. “News?”

“News,” he replied, sighing over my ears. “Good, bad, I don’t know. My contact had entrusted the details of the acquisition to one of his subordinates, whom he formerly thought was deserving of promotion. He’d told the man that there’d be budget for expanding the team. Apparently this got interpreted as ‘don’t worry about keeping the old team like I said to, if you can’t be bothered’.” Another sigh. “He’s going to try to fix it personally – I didn’t even need to remind him that the deal was conditional on keeping the existing staff on board, once he learned they’d been let go. At this point, it’s up to AdvenTech HR. The whole deal was kind of irregular to begin with, acquiring the people along with the intellectual property – sure, you’d have had an opt-out, but now that they actually have to track you down they might dig in their heels.” He squeezed around my shoulders. “Still, we’ll make it work out. Even if AdvenTech doesn’t want to go along with it, I can put you in touch with AEC. Or something. We’ll find something, damn it.”

The last bit had a vehemence, a bitterness, that I wasn’t used to hearing from him. I twisted around to look up at him, but he was looking aside, not at me, a similarly uncharacteristic grimace on his muzzle. He was apparently trying to convince himself, not just me.

Then he sighed, and did look down at me, rueful. “I don’t want to think that you should ever need a handout, Tim, but if it comes down to it… you’d still be doing your job if I hadn’t mucked around. We’ll keep you on your feet, if it comes to it. You’ll be okay.”

I took a few moments to parse that. It wasn’t that hard a notion, really, but some part of my brain just didn’t want to let go of the worries, the fretting. I’d drunk myself half to death over those worries, the troubles that had seemed so insurmountable. After that, I’d built myself up to endure against them, to just keep on going, whatever it took.

Now, one way or another, they were… gone. Just like that.

Relief was a strange thing. All the strength I’d been marshalling to cope with the mess just vanished right along with it. I clung to his robe, buried my head against his chest, and cried. Quietly – I wasn’t sobbing, wasn’t so far gone as to be that bad about it – but I cried my heart out all the same.

And through it all, he held me close, keeping my shivering body close against him, steady, unwavering. The most he moved was to take my glass of iced tea and set it on the desk before I spilt it.

I don’t know how long it took before I pulled back, sniffing. “Sorry. I think I’ve left a bit of a mess there.”

“Small price to pay.” Thick fingers stroked over my ears. “Got it all out, there?”

Another sniffle; I looked around for the nearest box of tissues. “I think so. Uh, ‘scuse me.” He gave my shoulder a squeeze, then let go while I dealt with that. He returned to the couch, meanwhile, offering me a soft smile when I looked his way.

Oh, what the hell. There was plenty of space to sit beside him, but why not go that extra mile? Recovering my glass on the way, I slid in and deposited myself on his thigh.

I could almost hear his blink, and then he laughed. “Getting over your neurosis in a hurry, huh?” He shifted slightly, leaning to pick up his glass.

“God knows I’m trying to,” I said, and leaned back against his chest with a sigh. Another whim struck, and I lifted my glass. “Here’s to getting my head on straight, huh?”

“I’ll drink to that,” he chuckled, and his glass met mine with a soft tink and a rattle of ice.

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