Jennifer, I mostly blame this story on you. When you agreed with
Jonathan, I knew there was someone out there who would probably appreciate the
story. And since my New Year's resolution is simply "to stop talking and get
off my dead ass and do something about it" (whatever 'it' may be), now I'm
stuck doing this.
I hope everyone enjoys this...and I've outlined another M7 story, so
don't like this one, be patient, and I'll return to the normally scheduled
broadcast at a later date <g>.
Jonathan sighed as he swayed back and forth on the back of the camel
riding. The sun was beating down upon him like a hammer, cutting into his
eyes, a knife of pure light. He was tired of the heat, and tired of the sand.
He was tired of being thirsty, tired of squinting into the sun all day, tired
of the sound and smell of camel. He was tired of the relentless ache in his
hand and shoulder.
Most of all, he was tired of watching the two love birds in front of
and coo, oblivious to him and everything else around them.
Not even the gold they had discovered in the packs on Rick's camel were
to distract them from each other. Nor was it enough to lift Jonathan's fallen
spirits. He had never believed he would see the day when a fortune would fail
to cheer him up, but there it was.
Cursing himself for the thousandth time since leaving Hamunaptra earlier
the day, he again damned himself for a love-sick fool, scowling irritably at
his camel's ears. Here he sat, after helping to save the world, the part
owner of more gold than he had ever thought he'd see, and all he could do was
moon over the man holding his sister Evie in his arms.
He had wanted Rick O'Connell from the first moment he had seen him.
Unfortunately, he had also wanted the puzzle box the drunken man had
possessed, and he had chosen to go after the box. Now, after all that had
happened, he was beginning to wish that he had instead chosen to pursue the
Jonathan had believed that Rick also felt some sort of attraction toward
aside from striking him at the prison, a blow that had been by no means as
damaging as the other man was capable of, the American had been quite
protective of him. He had helped save him when the Med-jai first attacked the
treasure seekers, and had always insisted that Jonathan stay with him when
within the bowels of Hamunaptra, doing his best to keep the Englishman safe.
Even in Cairo, Rick had been very definite on the point that it was Jonathan
who was to accompany him - and no one else.
The blue-eyed man had watched as Rick flirted with Evie, and she with
he had thought it might be some sort of game, and that he might still have a
chance. Love was blind, wasn't that how the saying went? And Jonathan had
He was beginning to wish he still was. That way he wouldn't have
to watch the
couple riding in front of him hold each other, talking quietly and exchanging
soft kisses. Not when he wanted to be the one holding Rick, kissing him,
caressing him, sliding his hands over heated flesh, slick with sweat...
The blue-eyed man shook his head roughly, as though as to physically
thoughts out of his head. He had to think about something else, or he ran the
risk of making himself crazy. Evie was in love with Rick, and it seemed like
the American was just as taken with her. Jonathan loved his sister; she was
all the family he had in the world, and though she might be younger than him,
more often than not she tried her best to take care of him. He couldn't do
anything that would interfere with her happiness, so he would have to just sit
And sweat. And squint. And feel sorry for himself.
The Englishman kept up a steady recitation of complaints, ranging from
weather to the stench of his camel to lamenting all the gold they had left
behind. It was something to do, and it took his mind off moping, at least a
little. Besides, it was expected of him. If he had ridden along silently, as
he would have preferred to do, Evie would definitely worry, and he didn't want
He perked up briefly at the idea of Rick worrying about him, then sharply
chastised himself. He wasn't going to do anything to ruin this for Evie, and
that meant he had to not give in to any of the devious schemes that kept
crossing his mind.
He restless shifted his left shoulder. His hand and arm were throbbing;
grateful as he was for Rick impromptu surgery when he had been attacked by the
scarab, he wasn't thankful for the pain that resulted. Fortunately, the
insect didn't seem to have done too much damage. The wound on his palm was
already half-healed; it was the incision in his shoulder that was really
bothering him, although his entire arm ached dully. But he couldn't complain
about it. He never complained about anything that mattered. Besides, if he
did so, he might worry Evie, and he had promised himself he wouldn't do that.
He rolled his shoulders again, trying to find a comfortable position.
did, Jonathan felt something odd, just under the collar of his shirt on the
right side. It was as if there was something in his shirt, between the
material and his skin. Abruptly filled with revulsion, he wondered if he had
somehow gotten a piece of the tattered fragments of linen that covered the
reanimated mummies of Imhotep's priest stuck inside his shirt. Face set in
lines of disgust, he reached inside his shirt with trembling fingers.
To his relief, all he found was a piece of parchment, not ancient linen.
Frowning, he turned the fragment over in his hands; how on earth had it gotten
inside his shirt? On the other side of it, there was a short message written
Chewing on his lower lip, Jonathan puzzled out the sentences.
wasn't what it should have been. He could have asked Evie or Rick for help,
but he decided not to. This would keep him occupied for a little while, and
he really needed a distraction.
It took him less time than he hoped it would, and when he was finished
translating, the blue-eyed man was sure he had made a mistake.
*Do not tell the others of this message. Wait until they sleep.
Walk out of
camp, to the north. Alone.*
And then a little further down: *Please*.
What the hell?
Jonathan stared at the note. He was reading it correctly, but
what did it
mean? Where had it come from? Thinking back over the events of the day, his
eyes widened as he remembered the incident directly after Hamunaptra had sunk
forever into the sands of the desert. The leader of the Med-jai had scared
the living hell out of him by clasping his right shoulder without warning.
The tattooed man must have pushed the message inside his shirt at the same
time. That was the only time it could have happened; certainly none of the
mummies would have slipped him a note.
That still didn't explain what it meant. Well, obviously he was
to sneak out of camp tonight and head north, but why? He and the Arab had
barely spoken to each other; the other man had always seemed far more
interested in Rick. That was fine with Jonathan; he was more interested in
the American as well, but had no right to be jealous. It was hard to get
worked up over an impossibility to which he had already resigned himself.
Why on earth would their mysterious ally want to meet with him in secret?
couldn't be to kill him. Jonathan knew he and his two traveling companions
had been more trouble than they were worth, but if the Med-jai warrior had
wanted him dead, he could've killed him at any time. Hell, instead of passing
him a note, he could have just run the blue-eyed man through.
Maybe the note was meant for O'Connell. That seemed likely, but
could have slipped the American a message at anytime. He didn't need to work
through Jonathan. The note must be for him after all, then, even though he
couldn't even begin to fathom the reason why.
Jonathan looked up, and saw Rick lean down to kiss Evie tenderly.
for a moment, then looked back down at the note quickly, blinking rapidly,
cursing himself yet again. It was ridiculous. There was nothing between
himself and the other man. Nothing, except a healthy dose of lust that had
somehow transformed into miserable unrequited love while he wasn't paying
The blue-eyed man focused resolutely on the parchment in his hands.
going to think about his emotions anymore. He would just ignore them, and
prattle on about everything and anything that popped into head, just as he
always did. He would distract himself until they reached Cairo, and then he
would take his share of the gold and leave, as quickly and as far away as he
Right now, he would distract himself with the note. It was the
best thing he
had available. He ran a finger over the note, tracing the characters one by
one. The 'please' transformed the sentences into an invitation, rather than a
command. Now the question had become: would he accept it?
He had no reason to. All Jonathan wanted now was to get free of
Egypt, and as
quickly as possible. He would come back to give Evie away at her wedding to
Rick, and then be off again. He had had his fill of sand and pain. It was
time to move on, perhaps to the Mediterranean. So long as he was free of the
For a moment, he contemplated the possibility that the note was a part
plot to get him away from camp, so Evie and Rick could be alone for a while.
But - no. He knew his sister, and knew as unconventional as she could be, she
would hold to propriety. Besides, the way things were progressing, the
wedding wouldn't be too far off. The two of them should be able to wait a few
That possibility discarded, he really couldn't come up with any reason
Med-jai to want to see him. He stared at the message, running his fingertip
over it again and again while he thought. His reverie was broken by a voice.
"Jonathan? Are you all right? You're awfully quiet."
Evie sounded only
His head jerked up quickly, and he met her gaze, pleased to see the
contentment in her eyes. "Everything is fine, old mum," he replied glibly,
hiding the parchment up a sleeve. "I'm just observing a moment or two of
silence, that's all."
"Are you in mourning?" asked Rick, not bothering to turn around.
"Of course. All that gold," Jonathan lamented, easily slipping
back into the
habit of complaining as humorously as possible. As he expounded on the great
loss he had suffered with the destruction of Hamunaptra, he knew that he had
made his choice. He would be sneaking out of camp that evening. What did he
have to lose?
Besides, this way he wouldn't have to watch Evie and Rick sleep side
while he lay on the other side of the fire. Alone.
Jonathan lifted himself up on his right arm, head slowly pulling free
blankets. He peered past the dying embers of the fire, staring across it,
trying to make out the sleeping forms that lay there. He smiled a little.
Evie was still the same mostly proper girl he knew and loved; she was lying
wrapped in her own bedroll, alone. So was Rick, but they were lying so close
together that they might as well be together. Evie had reached out in her
sleep, and had laid a hand on Rick's arm. Both of them were sleeping, heavily
enough that he thought he could get away from camp without awakening them.
He slipped free of the blankets, and quickly pulled on his boots and
Shivering slightly in the chill air, he started to walk away from camp. He
hesitated for a moment, then turned back for one last look before he was on
The last of the light from the fire caught the auburn highlights in
hair, the brown strands catching fire themselves. The American was laying on
his back, head lolling back, a soft smile on his face. Even as Jonathan
watched, Rick rolled over, dislodging Evie's soft grip on his arm, but he
rolled closer to her.
Jonathan forced himself to smile, a smile clear of any bitterness or
Evie was happy, Rick was happy, he was rich.
Too bad the old saw was right: money didn't buy happiness.
But that didn't
mean he had to let anyone else know.
Squaring his shoulders, he walked off to the north, boots sinking into
soft, cold sand with every step. As he made his way up and down dunes, his
anxiety rose as each moment passed and he saw no one. He called himself an
idiot, a fool, a madman - and he kept walking. He hadn't been sleeping
anyway, too distracted by the couple across from him. At least walking
required some of his attention.
As he continued on his way, he felt some his tension gradually begin
away, drawn away by the peace of the dessert. The sky above him was deeply,
endlessly black, and the stars above him shone brilliantly in their scattered
places in the heaven. The night air was cool, but he embraced the sensation;
it was a wonderful change from the relentless heat of the day.
Trudging up the next dune, he decided to turn around and return
didn't want to risk getting lost. As he crested the dune, the Englishman
stopped dead. There was a fire burning in the valley below him, and a man
beside the fire. Waiting.
Lifting his chin in a show of courage, Jonathan made his way down to
pasting a jaunty smile on his face. When he reached the fire, he stopped
several feet away from the Arab who had risen to meet him. "Hello, old chap,"
he greeted him cheerfully. "I didn't think that I'd be seeing you again so
soon. I would rather have thought you would be celebrating our departure, or
trying to hurry us on our way." He cast a mock-suspicious glare at the other
man. "You don't have another all-powerful ancient mummy you need help
stopping, do you?"
The taller man shook his head. His curly hair moved softly around
and shoulders. He was wearing the same clothes as he had early in the day,
and he hadn't yet replaced his headdress. Jonathan tried to not allow his
gaze to wander up and down the other man's body. He wasn't Rick, but he was
still attractive. The tattoos on his cheeks and forehead only served to
accent the strong, handsome lines of his face. The blue-eyed man had the
sudden mad impulse to ask him what else he might have tattooed.
The Arab hesitated for a moment, and then smiled a little. "No,
there is no
other mummy. No other crisis of any sort." His voice, dark and rich, sounded
wonderfully natural in the desert night.
Jonathan raised one eyebrow. "No crisis? I should've known.
called on O'Connell for that, I suppose. So what did you need to see me for?"
He winced a little as he heard the plaintive note in his own voice.
A tongue crept out to moisten full lips. "I thought we might have
common. A shared problem that we might be able to help each other with."
The Englishman shook his head. "I admit I don't understand."
What on earth
could he possibly have in common with the other man?
The man in black suddenly seemed to change tack. He stepped back,
gestured toward the fire. "I have tea. Would you like some?"
Confused by the abrupt change in topic, Jonathan nodded. "Yes,
He accepted a small cup, and took a sip of the strong, hot liquid. He waited
for the other man to continue, but he remained silent. Finally, the blue-eyed
man couldn't take the silence any more. "You asked me to come here secretly
so you could offer me a cup of tea?"
The Arab smiled again, a genuine expression, albeit one tinged with
nervousness. Jonathan wasn't sure he wanted to know what could make the
Med-jai warrior nervous.
"It must be very difficult for you, riding with O'Connell and your sister."
His heart lurching in his chest, suddenly beating hard and fast, the
Englishman fought to keep a sick expression off his face. "Well, yes, it is.
Camels are damned smelly beasts, and mine is no exception. And the heat! I
don't know how you can live out here in the desert. At least in the city,
there's shade. And whiskey." He would have been happy to continue rattling
on all night, but the other man held his hand up, asking for silence.
"That is not what I meant, and you know it. To have to ride with
watching as the man you want pays court to your sister, and not be able to do
anything about it."
"I have no idea what you are talking about. You are insane."
to leave, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him. Unfortunately, it was his
left shoulder, so he hissed and moved away from the pain.
"You are hurt? Ah, of course. Your shoulder still pains
you?" His voice was
apologetic, and concerned.
"Yes, it bloody well still pains me!" the blue-eyed man exploded, cultivating
the anger to hide his shock at the other man's knowledge of his hidden heart.
"Now, if it is quite all right with you, I am going to return to camp. Thanks
for the tea, but please, the next time you want to have a delusional tea
party, invite some of your friends, and leave me out of it." He tried to
stalk away once more, but this time the Arab grabbed him by his right arm.
"I am not willing to leave a comrade in pain. Not if I can help
Med-jai pulled the other man over to the fire. "Let me see your shoulder."
"No. It's fine. I had a knife stuck in it earlier today,
if you remember.
Of course it's going to be sore." He tried to pull away, but the grip on his
arm remained firm. "What do you want?"
"You know what I want. I have seen the way you look at O'Connell;
I know what
you feel for him." He didn't give Jonathan the chance to protest. "Don't
bother to deny it. Your eyes give away all the secrets your mouth would
keep." He again licked his lips, and looked uncomfortable. "Besides, I find
that I share in you predicament."
The Englishman stopped trying to get loose. "You share my predicament?
don't see your sister lying in O'Connell's arms, now do I?"
"Yes, but you do see a man who finds himself drawn to O'Connell, and
that he cannot have him." His hand fell away from the other man's arm.
Jonathan stared at him. He had suspected that the Arab was attracted
he couldn't really blame him for it, since he himself found the American
nearly irresistible. "Why are you telling me this?" he asked.
"Because I can only imagine what it must be like for you, in love with
watch him, in love with your sister. You helped to save us all from the
Creature; I cannot just ignore your pain." He stepped closer to Jonathan,
moving into his space.
The blue-eyed man shifted nervously, but didn't back away. "How
are you going
to help me with my pain? Do you have a look-alike for O'Connell hidden away
in your robes somewhere?" He grinned a little to himself. If the Arab did,
that replica would be stolen in a matter of moments, and Jonathan would never
have been more grateful for his nimble fingers.
"No. Regrettably, I do not." The dark-eyed man drew a deep
breath. "I can
only offer myself, as a substitute."
"You what?" Jonathan asked in disbelief. The other man couldn't
what he thought he was hearing, could he?
A flush mounting on his face, the Med-jai reached up to brush the back
knuckles against the Englishman's cheekbone. "I said, I thought I could help
you get through the next three weeks until you reach Cairo. We could help
each other, give each other comfort."
Jonathan began to sway forward, but he pulled himself back. "This
he muttered. "I must be out of my mind. You, you are definitely out of your
He took a step back, but stopped when the Arab asked, "Do you really
spend the rest of the night watching them sleep in each other's arms?"
Hearing his own thoughts spoken to him, the blue-eyed man paused, then
back to the taller man. Inhaling deeply, he looked up to meet the other man's
gaze squarely. "No, I don't," he said quietly.
It was true. He couldn't have Rick, and he didn't want to spend
the rest of
the journey to Cairo feeling completely miserable and sorry for himself. The
Med-jai could help him; besides, he was a handsome devil.
He took a step forward, this time being the one to invade the other
space. As he did so, the taller man moved forward, raising his hand to cup
Jonathan's cheek, bending down to bring his lips to meet his own.
Jonathan's eyelids slipped closed as he leaned toward the man in front
The first touch of their lips was hesitant: a kiss between strangers. Each
man pulled back at the same time, but moved forward again for another kiss.
And another. And another. Shivering from more than just the cool night air,
Jonathan pushed himself against the other man, raising his hands to shoulders.
The taller man was a good kisser, he noted, most skilled. His
mouth was warm,
and tasted of the tea they had both been drinking. Large hands moved over his
back, pulling him even closer. He tried to burrow into the other man's
warmth, enjoying the feel of the Arab's body against his own.
At that last thought, Jonathan's eyes flew open, and he jerked back,
his would-be lover.
"What is wrong?" asked the Med-jai, brow furrowed in consternation.
"Did I do
something? I thought you wanted this."
"I do." He did; if the Arab kissed that well, Jonathan wanted
to find out how
skilled he was in other areas. Besides, he would get to see for himself just
how far those tattoos extended across his body. He smiled with lazy
amusement. "I just realized that I have no idea what your name is. I don't
know what kind of boy you think I am, sir, but I have my standards." His
expression became a full-fledged grin. "Besides, if we are to continue, I
would really like to have something to call you besides, well, you."
The other man smiled, his dark eyes crinkling at the corners.
believe that I forgot. My name is Ardeth Bey, leader of the Med-jai,
The Englishman cut him off with two fingers pressed against the full
think your name is enough. I don't plan on calling you by any titles, and
your ancestors aren't here." Remembering the past few days, he cocked an
eyebrow. "Are they?"
Ardeth shook his head in the negative, slowly as to not dislodge Jonathan's
fingers. "That's a relief." He stepped into the other's man personal space.
"I am ready to continue, if you are." He ran his other hand up Ardeth's arm.
"I must say, I am getting the better end of this bargain." The blue-eyed man
moved his hand, sliding his hand around to pull the Arab's head down.
Hands encircled his wrists, pulling his hands down to be held against
chest, stopping him from completing the kiss. He stared up at the other man
in confusion. "What's wrong? You already know my name."
"Yes, I do. But I don't know why you said what you just did, about
Jonathan laughed uncomfortably. Did he really have to explain?
"It should be
obvious. You're you, and I'm me." He shrugged. "Forget I said anything."
He tried to reach for Ardeth, but his hands were still imprisoned by the other
man's grasp on his wrists. "If you don't want to do this, fine. I'm not sure
how eager I am to be just a convenient body."
He pulled away with a hard jerk, furious with himself as he turned away.
just had to run his mouth, didn't he? If he ever learned to just shut up,
perhaps he'd stop talking himself out of the things he wanted.
"Jonathan, wait." He stopped, the pleading in the rich voice stilling
instantly. Reluctantly, he turned to face Ardeth again.
The other man moved forward to stand directly before him. "I don't
how you seem to be seeing yourself. You faced down a creature my people have
feared for three thousand years in order to save your sister, placing yourself
in the path of destruction, even though you aren't a warrior or a soldier.
You are a brave man, as much as you try to lead others to believe the
opposite. You can make me laugh, which not many can do, and you have the
bluest eyes I have ever seen."
Jonathan cursed the flush he could feel rising his cheeks. "And
were here, you'd be saying the same thing."
"No, I would not. I would tell him he had *almost* the bluest
eyes I have
ever seen." He reached up a hand, placing his fingers at the Englishman's
temple. "I will not lie to you, I promise you that. This isn't about love."
The blue-eyed man nodded. "But it is about friendship?"
"I would hope pleasure would also play an important role," the shorter
"Oh, it most definitely will. I guarantee it."
Jonathan laughed, and stepped into Ardeth's arms, reaching up and pulling
head down for a kiss, a real one, free and easy, between friends. The
Englishman soon found himself pressing closer and closer to the other man, and
pushing himself upwards into the kiss.
Warm hands moved over his back, tugging at his shirt, pulling it out
pants. Ardeth's hands then roamed up under the cloth, caressing the bare skin
beneath. Jonathan would have been more than happy to return the favor, but he
couldn't find anyway to undo any of the other man's clothing and get to his
skin. Not while he was distracted by the taller man's mouth on his, and the
gentle duel of tongues in which they were engaging.
Finally, he tore his mouth away, both out of frustration and a need
breathe. Panting, he grinned up at the other man. "I want your shirt off,
but I don't know where to begin. Is that even a shirt?"
Ardeth laughed, and began to walk backwards, keeping his arms locked
Jonathan as he did so. Together, they moved over to a an overly-large bed
laid out in the sand, built out of blankets.
The blue-eyed man raised an eyebrow. "You are a large fellow,
but do you
really need that much room? Or were you so sure that you'd have company
"I wasn't certain at all, but after surviving the return of the creature,
find that I am becoming an optimist." He turned quickly and lowered Jonathan
to the ground, moving with him so that he was straddling the other man's
Jonathan reached up, using the thick curls as a convenient handle to
other man back down to him. He decided not to go for his mouth; he would
indulge in the tempting mouth again later. Instead, he kissed and nipped his
way across Ardeth's jaw, then began to lavish attention on his throat. Once
again, his efforts to continue his attentions were stymied by the thick black
cloth covering the man he was with.
He let his head fall back onto the think blankets beneath him.
"You have to
do something about your clothing."
"Do I, now?" Dark eyes sparkled above him.
Baring his teeth in a mock-snarl, the Englishman nodded firmly.
want me to cut it off you; but that would leave you with nothing to wear." He
paused, then looked the Arab up and down deliberately. "Not that I have any
objection to that."
Ardeth sat back, kneeling over the man lying beneath him. With
efficiency, he stripped off the clothing concealing the upper half of his
body. He tossed the black material aside, then stilled, pausing in the light
of the fire so Jonathan could see him clearly.
The blue-eyed man stared for what felt like an endless moment.
light caressed his deeply tanned skin, playing over lines of hard muscle.
Hesitantly, Jonathan lifted one hand to touch Ardeth's torso. He slid his
hand up the other man's body, then raised his other hand. With one finger, he
traced the tattoos that lay across the dark-eyed man's pectorals, his touch
The other man allowed the gentle, barely-there touches to continue for
then abruptly seemed to be able to endure them any longer. Grabbing
Jonathan's wrists, he pushed them down to rest beside his head on the blanket.
"You are far too over-dressed." He began to work at Jonathan's shirt, and
quickly stripped it from him, tossing it aside. When the Englishman reached
up again, Ardeth once more pressed his wrists to the blanket.
He leaned forward, until his curls gently brushed the blue-eyed man's
"Tonight, tonight is for you," he murmured, kissing him softly.
"What about you?" asked Jonathan. Giving himself over to the pleasure
to him was tempting, but he managed to spare a thought for the other man. He
was grateful that Ardeth wanted to distract him from his heartache, but he
hadn't forgotten that the Arab was looking for some distraction of his own.
Selfish as he might be in some matters, when it came to sex, he prided himself
on giving as good as he got.
A rich chuckle rumbled out from the chest of the man hovering over him.
tonight is for you, then tomorrow can be for me." He kissed Jonathan again,
lingeringly. "But I believe that I will enjoy tonight as well."
Jonathan laughed. "Then let's get on with it, please." He
relaxed under the
other man. "Have your wicked way with me."
Ardeth rewarded him with another kiss. Soon, both men were writhing
each other, pausing only to clumsily strip away their pants.
Jonathan had never expected to be naked under a desert sky, having sex
Med-jai warrior, but he wasn't going to complain. Especially since at that
point, he couldn't string together a coherent sentence to save his life.
He moaned a protest when Ardeth sat back, a moan that quickly became
pleasure when a hot, wet mouth engulfed him. He arched up, hips thrusting
helplessly as he sought more of the delicious sensation. Soon, the wet heat
became too much, and Jonathan came, crying out his pleasure as he shuddered
The dark-haired man crawled up Jonathan's body, sprawled out in satiated
languidness. He began to thrust against the body below him, and after a few
minutes of wonderful friction, the other man followed him into orgasm, gasping
out a few words in Arabic.
The Englishman lay with his eyes half-closed, panting for several minutes.
Reluctantly, he met Ardeth's gaze. "Now what?" he asked softly. "I should
probably get back to camp."
The other man's arms tightened around him. "You can stay.
They won't miss
you for some time yet."
He had never been good at resisting temptation. "Fine. If
I'm caught out,
it's on your head," he murmured.
Jonathan was mildly surprised to find that he did. He watched
contentment as the Ardeth pulled up blankets around them, covering their
sweaty bodies and protecting them from the chill night air. The Englishman
wriggled around for a moment until he found a comfortable position, then
drifted off, trusting in the other man to wake him up in time to return to
His last thought was that Ardeth was right: comforting each other
definitely a better alternative to watching Evie and Rick sleep together.
Jonathan circled the camp cautiously, eyes locked on the two sleeping
lying so close together by the remains of the fire. They didn't look as
though they had moved, and neither had noticed him missing.
Moving as quietly as possible, he made his way over to his blankets
crawled beneath them. Dawn was still a few hours off; Ardeth had been true to
his word, and had walked him back over to the camp long before Rick and Evie
had awakened. They wouldn't know he had been gone.
Of course, now he had to sleep alone for the next few hours, instead
sharing the bed of his new lover. He shivered a little in his blankets;
sharing body warmth was definitely better then relying on one's own.
He smiled to himself. He never would have expected the past night's
not even in his wildest fantasies. Most of those featured Rick, anyway. He
shook his head roughly. He wasn't going to start that again. Ardeth was
providing him with a wonderful distraction, and he wasn't going to waste it
wishing over what he couldn't have.
A wonderful, pleasurable, hot distraction...Jonathan rolled over, holding
himself in lieu of holding his absent lover. As he did, he heard an odd
rustling noise inside his shirt. Grinning, he reached inside and pulled out
what he had expected to find: another note. Once again written in Arabic, it
took him a little while to decipher it.
*After they sleep, come north again. Please.*
And again, there was another phrase a little further down: *Remember
it is my
Jonathan carefully placed the note beside the other in his wallet, storing
there for safe keeping. He then rolled himself up in his blankets, using his
memories to help keep himself warm.
The next morning, he awoke after the others, as usual. He complained
being tired, about the coffee, about having to go anywhere near his camel
again. He complained about everything except the love-struck antics of his
sister and Rick. Those he ignored, and the best way he could do that was to
concentrate on last night, and try to make plans for the coming evening.
He chuckled to himself, realizing that for once he was glad that he
ignored. That left him free to make plans of his own for tonight. There were
a few tricks he wanted to show the Med-jai when they met again.
With his thoughts occupied, the day passed quickly. He fidgeted
dinner, waiting impatiently for the others to go to sleep. It seemed to take
forever, but finally Rick and Evie got into their bedrolls. He then had to
endure the agonizingly long time it took for him to be sure that they were
Once again, he snuck away from camp, carefully making his way to the
This time, he moved quickly, purposefully; he knew what, who was waiting for
him, so he wanted to hurry.
As before, Ardeth was camped in a small valley between two dunes.
again standing beside a fire, waiting for Jonathan, dark hair loose around his
face, a welcoming smile on his lips.
The blue-eyed man didn't hesitate; he walked directly into the other
arms, enjoying the warmth and the feel of a hard body against his. He reached
up, stroking his fingers through Ardeth's facial hair before kissing him
The Med-jai responded just as eagerly, before pulling back slightly.
was that for?" he asked. "Not that I'm complaining."
"You said that you would give me a distraction from my troubles, and
certainly did." He kissed Ardeth again. "You are a most effective
The other man laughed. "You are proving to be one as well."
Jonathan frowned a little. "So you're just following us through the desert?"
"I suppose you could call it damage control. My people would like
to be sure
that you leave our desert without any further...incident, shall we say?"
"You'll be following us all the way to Cairo, then?" The Englishman
grin begin to widen. "That will take weeks."
"We will have many nights together," Ardeth agreed. His embrace
around Jonathan. "Speaking of nights, I do believe this night is mine."
The blue-eyed man licked his lips. "I seem to remember something
of the sort,
yes." He decided not to mention that he'd thought of nothing else all day.
Why give away secrets? This time he was the one to lead the way over to the
bed. Before anything else could happen, he stopped the Med-jai and met his
eyes directly. "Take off your clothes," he said firmly. "I don't want to
have to waste time trying to figure out how to get you out of that get-up."
That black, sexy, infernally difficult get-up.
To his delight, Ardeth stripped without protest, standing bare
and exposed to
the moonlight that poured down around the two men. Jonathan stared helplessly
at him. Long, clean-lined limbs, powerful muscles, and a surprisingly smooth
chest, exotically decorated with mysterious tattoos. He had seen all this
before, but he hadn't had the chance to truly appreciate it. He moved
forward, eager to touch the skin so beautifully displayed for him.
A hand placed on his chest stopped him. "Tonight is mine, remember?"
"Of course. So just let me-" He reached out once more.
"No. Let me." Ardeth's voice deepened, roughened to the
point of becoming a
growl. "Take off your clothes."
Swallowing hard, Jonathan swiftly obeyed. Once he was done, he
held his head
high, meeting the other man's gaze with one eyebrow cocked. "Now what?"
"Now, come here." Definitely a growl.
The blue-eyed man hastened to comply. He soon found himself down
blankets with no clear memory of how he got there. He didn't much care,
either, as he arched his back, pressing up against the hands skating over his
skin. He lunged upwards, kissing the throat above him before moving down to
With a maneuver he wasn't sure he would ever be able to duplicate, he
the other man over and climbed on top of him. He continued to move downward,
pausing when he reached Ardeth's nipples, taking the time to use all his skill
of mouth and fingers to bring both of them to aching hardness. Satisfied with
the results of his efforts, he tried to move even further down.
Tried. Before he reached his goal, he was hauled upwards by hands
latched onto his upper arms. His protests were lost inside the other man's
mouth. Jonathan soon began to lose track of all his plans.
When the kiss came to an end, he smiled down at the Med-jai. "I
return the favor for the other night," he whispered. "Why won't you let me?"
"Because tonight we're going to do what I want to do. And I don't
come in your mouth." He returned Jonathan's smile with one of his own, one
tinged with hunger and lust and want.
The Englishman licked his lips. "Just remember that I have to
be back on that
bloody camel tomorrow."
"This is about comfort and pleasure, Jonathan. Never about pain.
The Med-jai rolled them over, placing himself back on top.
Jonathan squirmed a little underneath him. "That will change if
you don't get
on with it."
Ardeth listened to him; the teasing ended. Soon, their two bodies
as one beneath the soft light of the moon, joined in pleasure and respect and
a growing affection. Achingly slow thrusts and gentle caresses soon brought
both men to completion.
Relaxing completely into the arms that held him, Jonathan murmured softly,
"You will wake me?"
"I will," promised the other man, lips gently brushing his ear.
Humming happily, the blue-eyed man closed his eyes. "I doubt they'd
I didn't come back, but still. One should make an effort to keep up
"They don't suspect anything?" Ardeth's voice was quiet, and heavy
"How could they? They only have eyes for each other." He
into his lover's embrace. "But thanks to you, I find that it is beginning to
bother me less."
A strong embrace was his only response, but it was enough. The
Something was up. Rick might not know what it was, but he was
something was going on, right under his nose, and he was going to figure out
what it was.
The adventurer was fairly certain that whatever it was, it was somehow
to Jonathan's odd behavior lately. The other man wasn't behaving drastically
different, or anything, but his actions were off enough that Rick was
beginning to wonder, and worry, just a bit.
He wasn't sure how long the Englishman's behavior had been changed;
been fairly wrapped up in Evie, and the wonder of having her alive and safe
with him to pay much attention to anyone or anything else. By the fifth day
out of Hamunaptra, however, he knew something was wrong, even distracted as he
Jonathan was quieter than Rick had ever seen him. On the way to
the first time, the other man's constant stream of observations, complaints,
and wisecracks had been like a low, unending hum in the background. Rick had
never really paid too much attention to it before, but now that it was gone,
he found that he missed it.
Oh, the Englishman still talked, but only if Rick or Evie said something
him first, or if he noticed one of them looking at him. Then he would chatter
away, at least until the other person lost interest, and then he would fall
silent once more.
On the sixth and seventh days, Rick continued to watch Jonathan.
quietness wasn't a bad silence, exactly; most of the time, he stared dreamily
off into space, thoughts obviously a million miles away. He seemed content
and contemplative, more than anything else.
Rick wanted to figure out what was going on with the other man, but
reluctant to ask. This Jonathan was different from the careless scoundrel he
was used to, so he found himself reluctant to approach him. Besides, he still
had Evie occupying most of his attention. He had been so frightened of losing
her; once he had her again, the euphoria was taking a while to ebb away.
On the eighth day, an outrageous suspicion began to dawn on the adventurer.
They had camped beside a small oasis, and were staying later on in the day
than usual, taking advantage of the water to relax, and bathe. Rick had
glanced over at the blue-eyed man when he had first awakened, and had noticed
something that confused him. Jonathan's lips seemed to be swollen.
Never mind that he had been studying the other man's lips. That
Rick supposed there could be some sort of rational explanation for it,
one that immediately came to his mind was that Jonathan had been kissed
recently, and whoever he had been with had done a thorough job of it. But
how? And who? It certainly hadn't been Evie, and Rick was fairly sure he
would've remember kissing the other man.
He had been trying to dismiss his thoughts as ludicrous. He had
been out in
the sun for a week, after all. He was simply suffering from the effects of
too much exposure. Satisfied with that explanation, Rick had almost succeeded
in putting the observation out of his head. Then he had glanced over at the
small spring while Jonathan was bathing.
Thin limbs, corded with the lean muscle of a runner...short dark hair,
and mussed...dark blue eyes, screwed up in the pleasure of coolness and
finally getting clean...dark skin, baked brown by years under the sun, marred
only by scattered bruises...
Scattered bruises that looked suspiciously like love-bites.
Rick barely managed to jerk his gaze away before the other man caught
staring. Jonathan had been with someone, recently by the look of the marks on
his body. But who? There was no one around, except for a large number of
dead mummies several days back, and the adventurer knew Jonathan had higher
standards than that.
Sitting down in the sand, the tall man began to do some serious thinking.
about who Jonathan had been with, but about the ember of anger he could feel
beginning to burn in his gut. He knew the sensation; he had felt it before.
Jealousy. He was jealous of whoever had been caressing the other man, running
hands and mouth over the thin, hard body.
He knew that he had found Jonathan attractive, for many of the same
that he had been smitten with Evie. The most striking resemblance between the
two of them were their eyes: both had large blue eyes, with which they gazed
out at the world in wonder and innocence.
Of course, while he had no doubt that this was true of Evie, he knew
better. The wonder might be real, but the innocence was a sham, behind which
he barely managed to conceal unrepentant mischief and humor. It was that
humor, as well as the surprising way the other man had persevered through the
whole hellish adventure, that had caught Rick's attention most.
But he had Evie. She was obviously in love with him, and he felt
the same way
about her. Aside from the awkward emotions he had for her brother, everything
was fine. But those awkward emotions just weren't going away, especially not
the jealousy. He might not have Jonathan, but that didn't mean anyone else
should have him, either.
He knew he had to figure out what was happening with the other man.
fairly certain that he now knew the reason for the other man's distraction.
Jonathan had a secret lover, and Rick was going to find out who it was.
That night, the adventurer was careful not to get too entangled with
they laid down together. Keeping his eyes slit, he watched Jonathan as he
pretended to sleep. An hour after Evie had fallen asleep, and he had acted as
if he had done so, his deception paid off.
Jonathan stealthily creeped out of his blankets, easing out of them
He stood, barely visible in the starlight and light of the waning moon,
gazing down at Rick for a moment. The adventurer was spellbound, utterly
captivated by the enigmatic expression on the other man's face.
The blue-eyed man turned abruptly and walked out of camp, shattering
moment. Rick was frozen for a short time, then snapped out of it and made his
own way out of camp, fairly confident that Evie would be all right on her own.
He didn't plan on being gone long, anyway, just long enough to see who
Jonathan was going to meet.
He trailed along behind the Englishman, not wanting to be seen.
The other man
was oblivious of him, moving at a fast walk, apparently eager to get to
wherever he was going.
Jonathan paused at the top of a dune, his whole body posture radiating
pleasure and excitement, then hurried down the slope. Rick followed him
cautiously, sure that the Englishman's lover was down the hill. He dropped to
a crouch, to avoid being seen. Poking his head over the dune, he watched as
Jonathan walked directly into the arms of his waiting lover.
His breath caught in his throat as he realized what he was seeing.
was eagerly kissing a man. Not just any man.
The Med-jai was Jonathan's lover.
Rick stumbled back into camp, almost walking into Evie as she lay sleeping
before he saw her and stopped himself. His thoughts weren't on where he was
going; they were back over the dunes, with the two men he had spent a good
portion of the night spying on. He was lucky to have made it back to camp at
all, he was so distracted.
He carefully crawled into his blankets, relieved when the woman beside
slept through his return. The last thing he wanted to do was talk to her.
Not when his mind was filled with the images of her brother, naked beneath the
desert sky. Not when that was all he wanted to think about.
He stretched out on his back, closing his eyes with a barely audible
He hadn't known what to expect when he had followed Jonathan, but he had never
imagined that the Med-jai leader would be revealed as the other man's secret
lover. He had been frozen in shock when the Englishman had gone so eagerly
into the Arab's arms. Fortunately, the two men had been too caught up in each
other to notice him. Rick soon recovered, and while the two men talked
quietly, and kissed in greeting, he moved stealthily around the small camp,
getting closer, so he could see and hear, and still be hidden.
He wasn't sure why he didn't just turn around and go back to camp.
questions about Jonathan's behavior had been answered; he could leave. The
adventurer told himself that he wanted to be sure that everything was as it
seemed, that the blue-eyed man really knew what he was doing. He wasn't
watching out of some voyeuristic urge; he was just watching out for a friend.
He repeated that last thought several times, until he began to believe it.
His eyes widened as the Med-jai began to remove Jonathan's clothing,
time to carefully ease each garment off the other man, slowly exposing his
body to the night air. His movements were gentle, revealing an immense wealth
Soon Jonathan was standing naked before his lover, facing the direction
which Rick was hiding. The American's eyes wandered lingeringly over the nude
man, tracing the long lines of muscle, the flesh that he had only been able to
catch fleeting glances of before. His gaze leapt upward when he heard
"I'm going to get it this time, I really mean it," he said, his voice
combination of determination, amusement, and arousal.
Rick was confused by the words, until he saw the Englishman tackle the
undressing his lover. Jonathan struggled with the dark clothing, teeth
worrying at his bottom lip as he did so.
The Med-jai laughed, and offered small bits of help occasionally.
was as bare as his lover. "Perhaps you will manage it tomorrow night," he
"I certainly hope so. How long did it take you to learn how to
yourself? Did you have to mmmph-" Jonathan's stream of words was cut off by
his lover's mouth descending upon his. Not breaking the kiss, the Arab backed
Jonathan up, then smoothly bore his down to the blankets, covering the thinner
body with his own.
Rick felt his breath quicken as he remembered what he had seen.
At the time,
he had been too amazed, and to worried about being seen, to really think about
what he was seeing. Now, in the safety of his own blankets, he felt himself
finally react to the images playing behind his eyelids. Almost without his
awareness, his hands crept downward, sliding beneath his pants so he could
touch and caress his own awakening flesh.
His thoughts wandered back to what he had seen. Jonathan had lain
beneath the larger man, running his hands across the skin of his lover's back
as the two men kissed and writhed against each other.
Then the Englishman pulled his head away, and grinned up at his lover.
over," he said, before nibbling at the other man's neck. "I want on top."
The Med-jai complied immediately, rolling the two of them over so that
Jonathan lay sprawled across his body. The blue-eyed man looked down at the
body beneath him, a devilish gleam in his eyes. He reached out and gently
traced the tattoo that ran across the other man's left cheek. "I still don't
know what all these tattoos mean," he said.
The Arab groaned. "And you want me to tell you now? I have
quite a few
tattoos, as you have noticed. Isn't there something else you would like to
do?" He thrust up against his lover, and his hands began to roam over the
other man's body.
Jonathan nodded firmly. "I want to know what they mean.
If you tell me, with
a minimum of complaining, I promise to find a way to reward you."
The dark-eyed man shook his head, but he asked, "Where would you like
"This cheek right here," the Englishman replied, still running his finger
the man beneath him's left cheek.
The Med-jai began to speak, his rich voice rumbling out the words in
tongue. Jonathan smiled, and leaned down. As his lover continued to speak,
he parted his lips and traced the tattoo once more, this time with his tongue.
The Arab's voice faltered, but he managed to continue on, although his voice
was huskier than before.
The same pattern followed for each tattoo. First, Jonathan would
out, tracing over it with his fingertip. Then, as his lover spoke, he would
paint the marking with his tongue, carefully following every bend and turn.
Rick groaned as he remembered how long Jonathan had insisted on drawing
the teasing of his lover, how he had insisted on bestowing the same lavish
attention on every tattoo the other man had. The adventurer's stokes of
himself quickened as the rest of the evening passed through his mind.
When Jonathan had heard the story behind each tattoo, and the Med-jai
barely able to speak coherently, he finally seemed to notice his lover's
hardness. Grinning wickedly, he hovered over the swollen organ and lamented,
"Too bad there aren't any tattoos here."
A growl erupted from the man beneath him. Before the Arab could
take any sort
of revenge for the remark, the other man had already engulfed him in his
mouth, paying the same extravagant care to the action has he had the rest of
his body. The dark-eyed man was too aroused to last long; after a few hard
thrusts, he came with a body-length shudder and a loud cry.
Licking his lips, Jonathan crawled up the length of his lover, and shared
taste of him though a long, thorough kiss. Panting, the Med-jai smiled at
him. "When I regain my strength, I promise you that I will have my revenge."
The Englishman laughed. "I am counting on it." He began
to thrust against
the other man, moving faster and faster as he sped toward completion.
Rick's strokes of himself mirrored the rhythm he had seen, his thoughts
focused on the sight of Jonathan driving himself toward orgasm. Soon, he
gasped as he came, even as he remembered the way Jonathan's face had contorted
The American had watched as the two men had settled down to sleep, held
each other's arms, before he had made his way back to his own bed. As he lay
breathing heavily his blankets, Rick knew that he wouldn't be sleeping, not
until Jonathan returned to camp. He knew his friend was all right; he just
wanted to be sure that he came back.
The blue-eyed man returned a couple hours before dawn, smiling to himself
he made his way into his own blankets. Rick sighed, and drifted off to
The next day, Rick found himself staring at Jonathan, but was unable
even when Evie complained about how distracted he was. He couldn't help
himself, not after what he had seen.
The Englishman didn't refer in anyway to the previous nights activities.
rode along, seemingly the same as usual. There were silences in him that Rick
couldn't remember from before, but now the American knew the reason for them.
The other thing Rick noted was that every so often, Jonathan would pull a
number of scraps of what looked like paper out of his wallet, and just look at
them and smile.
Rick wanted to get his hands on them. He got his chance that evening,
Jonathan was cursing his way through preparing dinner. The Englishman had
left his wallet unattended in his pile of belongings. While he was distracted
with the cooking, and Evie distracted by her brother, Rick took the
opportunity presented to him and quickly opened it. Inside, he found a
collection of notes written on parchment. All were in Arabic, and all were
invitations for Jonathan to join the Med-jai warrior out in the desert that
He was struck by something as he looked them over. What looked
like the first
notes merely said please, with no sort of salutation to them. The later ones,
however, contained words like 'friend' and 'lover'. What looked like the
latest one referred to Jonathan as 'sky-eyes'.
Rick hastily put the notes, and the wallet away, and moved back over
Jonathan, who had given up on cooking and was letting Evie take care of it.
The American was disturbed. The notes revealed an increasing amount of
affection between the two men, and he didn't like it. What if Jonathan fell
in love with the Med-jai, and decided to stay in the desert with him? How
would Rick ever see him in Cairo then?
The adventurer tried to tell himself that whatever decision Jonathan
his alone. The Arab was obviously not hurting him; the blue-eyed man seemed
very happy when he was with him. Very happy. Rick should be happy for him.
After all, he had Evie, and now Jonathan had someone for himself. He should
be pleased for the Englishman, instead of disgruntled, worried, and jealous.
Jealous? He thought about it, and barely suppressed a groan.
Of course he
was jealous. He wanted Jonathan for himself, and the Med-jai had him.
Rick decided that he was in serious trouble.
Jonathan was confused. Things had been going so well for the past
weeks. Thanks to Ardeth, he was able to endure the ride back to Cairo with a
smile on his face, and pleasant aches all over his body. The Englishman had
even begun to feel fairly optimistic about his chances of making it to
civilization in a reasonably sane state. His days might still have been
fairly hellish, what with the carryings-on of Rick and Evie, but the nights
more than made up for it.
But something had changed. Not with Ardeth; things had only gotten
with his temporary lover. He now regarded the other man as a friend, a good
friend, one whom he would miss when he left the desert.
Rick was the problem. For the past week, the American had grown
more, well, obnoxious. He watched Jonathan constantly now, and anytime the
Englishman tried to say anything to him, he just made some sort of scathing
comment and ignored him.
Jonathan didn't know what to think. He hadn't done anything, he
was sure of
it. He was too caught up in either remembering events from the night before,
or in planning things to try out the next night, to do too much to annoy the
other man. Hell, he had talked less on the ride back to Cairo than any other
time in his life that he could remember.
For a moment he panicked, thinking that Rick might know about Ardeth.
he told Evie? But no, he couldn't. Jonathan had been careful. Besides, with
the way Rick had been treating him, the adventurer wouldn't have passed up a
chance to make a few cutting remarks about Jonathan's nightly assignations.
So what could it be? The only explanation he could come up with
was that Rick
wanted to be alone with Evie, and was getting tired of her irritating older
brother always being around, but even that idea didn't really work. He had
tried avoiding the other man as much as possible, always riding behind him and
staying as far away as he could, but it didn't seem to do any good.
Frankly, the Englishman was beginning to become a bit unnerved.
belittling insults, Rick had also begun staring at him. Jonathan was getting
jumpy, what with that blue gaze always trailing after him, always on him, and
with no explanation, no reason why. Jonathan was seriously considering asking
Ardeth if there was some sort of curse on the treasure of Hamunaptra, one that
could be affecting Rick and making him act strangely.
Things had gotten so bad that Evie had noticed. She had tried
letting it go
for a couple of days, but finally could take the tension between the two men.
Predictably, it was Jonathan that she chose to corner and try to interrogate
an explanation out of him.
"Honestly, Jonathan, you must have done something," she had said.
wouldn't just start snapping at you for no reason." Her tone was exasperated,
and why not? Her irresponsible brother was somehow complicating her life.
Jonathan felt guilty, but he couldn't give her an explanation.
He had told
her that he had no idea what O'Connell's problem was. After staring at him
suspiciously, she nodded slowly, and warned him to watch himself, before
wandering back over to sit with Rick.
The Englishman sighed heavily. That had been a few days ago, and
hadn't changed at all. He could see that Evie was getting more and more
antsy, but Rick didn't even seem to notice that. Jonathan was getting to the
point where he was about ready to break, and confront Rick, just to get this
over with, and damn the consequences. But not just yet. He wanted to talk to
Ardeth first. Maybe the other man could help him figure out what to do.
That night, he again took extreme precautions before leaving camp to
Ardeth. He waited longer before leaving, to be doubly sure that Rick and Evie
were asleep, and he glanced back behind him often, making sure that no one was
following him. Jonathan was incredibly glad to see Ardeth.
The Arab was seated on the blankets that made up their bed, staring
the dessert. A broad smile spread across his face as he watched the blue-eyed
man approach. He didn't stand; instead, he held out his arms, opened wide in
welcome and invitation.
Jonathan didn't need to be asked twice. He walked over to Ardeth
himself into the other man's embrace in one fluid movement, not stopping until
he was wrapped around his lover, held securely in his arms. He sighed
heavily, and buried his face in Ardeth's neck, breathing in his clean,
masculine scent. He absorbed the warmth of skin, and reveled in the feel of
soft hair against his face. "I am so glad to see you," he murmured. He could
practically feel his tension draining away, gradually erased by the feel of
his lover against him.
"And I to see you, of course. I am always glad to see you."
The deep voice
rumbled in the chest the English man was leaning against, and the vibrations
rolled pleasantly through the blue-eyed man. "But I believe that there is
something more behind how you are feeling."
Jonathan reluctantly pulled back so that he could his lover in the face
meet his eyes. "You're right. I am glad to see you, of course, just
because...because. You know that. But I needed to get away, to talk to
someone who hasn't been treating me like a suspicious stain on his favorite
jacket. O'Connell's behavior has been absolutely beastly for days now, and
Evie's is beginning to deteriorate as well." A crooked grin crossed his face.
"It seems as though you are the sanest person out in this desert. How
Ardeth's answering grin was tinged with sympathy. "O'Connell is
"Still acting like an ass, is more like it," Jonathan groused.
"I'm not sure
how much more of this I can take. I'm not sure how much more Evie can take.
She's probably going to take a shovel to us both, and go on to Cairo alone."
The dark-eyed man laughed. "You know she wouldn't do that."
"No, no, you're right. Evie's a bright girl; she'd only kill me,
and then go
on with O'Connell." He grinned as he spoke. He knew that Evie would never
hurt him; still, his sister wasn't a tremendously patient woman, and he wasn't
looking forward to the moment she ran out of patience.
"Are you sure that O'Connell doesn't know about us? I still think
like a man struggling with jealousy."
"Jealous because I have you, perhaps, but not because I'm with you and
him. He can't know. I've always been careful when coming to you. Besides,
he wouldn't have passed up the chance to thoroughly embarrass me by bringing
us up in front of Evie." Jonathan shook his head. "I don't want to think
about this any more," he said firmly. "I came here to be with you, not to
give myself a headache worry about whatever is chafing at O'Connell." He
grinned. "I'd rather spend my time chafing at you." He pushed at the other
man's shoulders, gently forcing him back onto the blankets.
"As you wish," replied Ardeth, one hand snaking up to pull Jonathan
against him. The Med-jai captured Jonathan's mouth with his own. Strong
hands made short work of the Englishman's clothes.
Jonathan wasn't idle; even as he moaned into his lover's mouth, he was
at his clothing, thankful that he had finally learned how the other man's
clothing worked as he stripped it away. Finally naked in Ardeth's arms, he
returned his full attention to the kiss, tongue dueling lazily with the
Arab's, a game neither wanted to win, because neither wanted it to end.
Ardeth gently pulled back, and lay staring up at his lover. Hazily
blue eyes drifted open. "What's wrong?" asked Jonathan.
"You're still thinking," the Med-jai chided. "I don't want you
to think, or
worry, or fret. I want you to forget everything but being here."
The Englishman smiled. "I do, mostly. It's just that it's
been a week, and
O'Connell is showing no signs of coming out of whatever mood he is in, and-"
"And when you think, you worry," the other man continued relentlessly.
don't want you to worry. Not while you're with me."
"Oh yeah? So what are you going to do about it?" Jonathan
quirked an eyebrow
at him, his voice challenging. His lover was planning something, he could
Ardeth rolled over quickly, effectively pinning the Englishman beneath
"You're going to find out," he snarled in a mock threat.
Blue eyes wide, Jonathan shivered beneath him. Oh, yeah, he was
planning something. And he couldn't wait to find out what.
He blinked in confusion when the dark-eyed man pushed himself up and
him, moving to rest on his knees a short distance away. "What-"
"Don't talk. Don't think. Just feel." The words were
spoken quietly, but
were also unmistakably commands.
Of course Jonathan couldn't just go along with it. "How can I
feel if you're
all the way over there?"
The corners of Ardeth's mouth twitched. "Be silent. Listen
to my voice.
Obey and feel."
Licking his lips, Jonathan nodded slowly, managing to reign in his tongue.
"Close your eyes." Jonathan reluctantly did so. He would
have preferred to
continue to stare at the handsome man kneeling nearby, but he was going to go
along with this, whatever Ardeth was planning.
His eyes closed, he became aware of the soft breeze blowing against
the sound of the fire crackling gently, the light scent of smoke, the chill of
the night air. Air...a light, steady stream of air suddenly blew across one
of his nipples. Startled, his eye flew open.
Ardeth was crouched beside him, a disapproving expression on his face.
your eyes," he repeated, shaking his head reprovingly.
Jonathan quickly did so. He was rewarded by another stream of
against his other nipple. He could feel both of them tighten, harden and
stand out from his chest. The next stream of air skimmed across his sternum.
The Englishman arched his back helplessly, trying to get closer to that
maddeningly insubstantial sensation.
A quiet chuckle drifted over to his ears. Before he could open
hands began to travel across his chest, quickly followed by a warm, wet
tongue. Jonathan couldn't hold back the moan that swelled up and broke forth.
Ardeth soon branched out his delicious torture, moving down Jonathan's
Special attention was paid to his hands. When the Med-jai began to suck on
the fingers of his other hand, tongue swirling around suggestively,
reminiscent of other activities, the Englishman began to thrust his hips,
desperately seeking some sort of contact, anything to bring himself relief.
A gentling hand rubbed soothing circles onto his stomach. He calmed
slowly, breathing heavily still, but no longer out of control. The hand was
joined by the other, and both of them slowly slid down to grip his thighs.
Warm breath ghosted across his hardness. Before he could begin
upwards once more, the breath was followed by mouth and tongue. With a
muffled shout, Jonathan struggled to control himself, to not pump wildly into
his lover's mouth. His aching shaft was treated to the same intense attention
as his fingers had been, and it wasn't long until he came, shuddering out his
At the feel of a heavy body blanketing his own, Jonathan languidly opened
eyes. Ardeth smiled down at him, before claiming his mouth in a kiss. The
Englishman could taste himself, and kissed the other man more deeply. He felt
as though his bones at softened, as if he would be content never to move
again, but instead stay and kiss the other man.
He cooperated as best he could when the Med-jai rolled him over onto
stomach, wanting the connection with the other man, but not wanting to have to
try to help to achieve it. After gentle, drawn out preparation, Ardeth slowly
entered him. His thrusts were slow, deliberate, powerful.
Unbelieving, Jonathan felt himself getting hard again, something he
thought possible after an orgasm like he had just experienced. He was still
caught in that state of contended lethargy, but he began to moan steadily as
Ardeth drove them both relentlessly toward completion.
Jonathan thought he may have passed out for a moment; he couldn't remember
coming, just his lover gently rolling him over to lie on his back, and
carefully cleaning him up. He stared blearily at the other man, trying to
collect his thoughts, and failing.
Ardeth kissed him lingeringly, and smiled triumphantly at him.
thinking, are you?"
Jonathan tried to answer, he really did. It was just taking too
to remember how to form words, much less come up with words to say.
The Med-jai laughed gently, before pulling Jonathan into a tight embrace.
appears I have succeeded."
The Englishman was fairly sure that comment deserved a response, but
couldn't find the energy to find one. He gave it up as impossible, and
surrendered to sleep, completely relaxed at last.
Rick was hardly able to lay still and feign sleep, so great was his
impatience. What was Jonathan waiting around for, any way? This was their
last night in the desert; wasn't the other man going to sneak off to meet his
lover? He needed to get going, so Rick could follow him.
The American knew that his behavior for the past week and a half had
fairly awful towards Jonathan. He had known that he had been acting like a
jerk while he was doing it, but he hadn't been able to help himself. After
seeing how happy Jonathan was when with the Med-jai, he had begun to worry
that the Englishman might decide to stay with his lover in the desert, instead
of going on to Cairo. That fear, as well as an irrational feeling of betrayal
had made Rick lash out at the other man, whenever Jonathan had been unlucky
enough to catch his attention. Which happened quite often, since he couldn't
take his eyes off the Englishman, afraid that each day would be the last he
would ever see him.
The past four or five days had been better, though. Evie had finally
fed up with his rotten mood, and had dragged him aside and demanded an
explanation. He hadn't known what to tell her. "Well, it's like this, Evie.
I watched your brother have sex with another man, and now I'm being eaten
alive by jealousy and the fear that I'm going to lose him, even though I never
had him. I don't know what to do about it, so I'm taking it out on him."
Right. That would go over *so* well.
He had settled for an abashed, boyish grin and a glib reply. "I'm
Evie. I'm just so tired of being out here in the heat and the sand. I just
want get back to Cairo, and get on with my life. With our life." He had
pulled her close then, and gently kissed her temple.
She had seemed mollified, and had responded, "I can certainly understand
Just try not to take it out on Jonathan, all right? I'm sure he's just as
eager to get back to civilization as you are, and we're only out here for a
little while longer." She had smiled up at him, eyes clear and guileless.
"Anytime you feel yourself starting to get a little crazy, just come to me.
I'll take your mind off of it."
Knowing that Evie was aware of and annoyed by his behavior, Rick had
conscious effort to control himself and his reactions around Jonathan. He had
gone back to mostly ignoring the Englishman, and doing his damnedest to
concentrate on Evie.
That was all going out the window tonight. He knew that Jonathan
had gone to
the Med-jai every night, and that this would be the two lovers' last night
before Jonathan returned to Cairo. If the Englishman was going to decide to
stay in the desert, he would do so tonight.
That was why Rick was going to follow him again. He hadn't, not
first time. He had been tempted, of course, but he had resisted. He hadn't
had a reason. Now he did. He had to make sure that his friend wasn't going
to make any rash decisions.
Oh yeah. Just keep telling yourself that, Rick ol'buddy.
Finally, Jonathan rose and cautiously made his way out of camp.
at a distance; the other man always headed due north, so he didn't have to be
close to him in order to know where he was going.
Moving carefully, Rick circled the Arab's camp, making his way ever
until he could both see and hear. He had to know what was going on. He had
He had arrived a few minutes after Jonathan, and the Englishman already
his lover flat on his back, and was straddling his hips while kissing him
frantically. The Med-jai's response was just as fevered, as his hands wound
into the blue-eyed man's hair, holding his head still and close.
The kisses went on and on; neither man seemed to be able to get enough
other. Finally, Jonathan wrenched his head back and stared down at his lover.
"I want you," he panted, voice thick and hoarse.
"You have me," the dark-eyed man replied, his own breathing none too
"As I recall, you had me last night." He pulled Jonathan's mouth back down to
his own, feeding off it hungrily.
The Englishman broke away once more, laughing a little. "I want
me," he clarified. "I want to be able to feel you tomorrow, and the day after
that, so even when I'm in Cairo, I've got you with me." He bent down, so that
his lips hovered just over the Med-jai's. "I want to feel you until I can get
the hell out of Cairo. Do you think you can handle that?"
The other man roughly jerked Jonathan's head down once again, taking
possession of his mouth, staking claim with his own. His lips then traced the
line of the blue-eyed man's jaw, up to his ear. "You know I can," he growled
It was a frantic, fevered coupling, driven by the knowledge that it
their last. Jonathan tore through the Arab's clothes, casting them aside
with careless haste. As soon as he found bare skin, he attacked with lips,
teeth and tongue, sucking, biting, licking.
The Med-jai was no less busy; removing Jonathan's clothes with ruthless
efficiency, he pulled it away determinedly. He soon had his naked lover
writhing beneath him. "This is what you want?"
"No." The Englishman grinned up at him. "Weren't you listening?
I said I
wanted you in me. Of course, if you aren't up to it-" His teasing words were
swallowed by the mouth that covered his. The kiss continued as Jonathan was
quickly, but carefully prepared. He was soon moaning constantly, the sound
lost inside his lover's mouth.
The Med-jai positioned his lover as he wanted him, laying on his back,
hooked over the long-haired man's shoulders. He paused before entering
Jonathan, staring down into his eyes. "You are ready?" he asked, breathing
hard, curls swinging gently around his face sheened with sweat.
Jonathan pushed backwards in answer, trying to impale himself on his
hardness. "Please," he muttered. "Don't make me wait, Ardeth, please."
"Make you wait? Never, Jonathan." He entered his lover in
one smooth stroke.
After a few slow thrusts, he soon began a punishing rhythm, moving hard and
fast within the Englishman.
Jonathan snaked a hand down to stroke himself in time to the pounding
receiving. He couldn't last long; he was too wound up, too desperate to hang
on. He came, howling inarticulately to the sky. His lover soon followed him,
crying out in Arabic before collapsing on top of the blue-eyed man.
Both men lay still, panting for breath. Finally, the Med-jai raised
and rolled off to the side a little. He reached out and pushed Jonathan's
sweaty hair back, out of his face. "Was that what you had in mind?"
"Oh, yes. That was it exactly." Jonathan stretched a little,
softly as his lover quickly cleaned both of them up. He moved happily into
the Arab's arms once he returned, wriggling around until he was comfortable
draped over the other man. "Thank you."
"For what? I have been a friend to you, as you have been to me.
I should be
thanking you as well, then." The dark-eyed man looked at him seriously.
"What will you do now?"
"Now? I plan on falling asleep." A gentle tweak of one of
his nipples made
the Englishman jump a bit, and laugh. "Oh, you meant now in general? I'll go
back to Cairo, make sure Evie is settled, and then take my share of the
treasure and leave. It would be nice to do some traveling without staying in
the sleaziest of hotels. I might even go back to England for a little while,
see what life is like back in a truly civilized country."
"So you won't be staying." There were traces of disappointment
in his voice.
Jonathan met his eyes steadily. "I can't. I know myself
well enough to know
that I need to get away, get completely away, or else I'll never get over him.
I want to be able to be happy for Evie, and I won't be able to until I move
on, past Rick."
"What if Rick came to you, and told you he wanted you too? What
would you do
"Wake up, perhaps? It could never happen. Even if it did,
it would change
nothing. Evie loves him. I couldn't hurt her, not like that. I'd still
leave, probably, only faster than before." He sighed. "Lovely post-coital
thought, that. What brought it on?"
"I was just curious." The Med-jai pulled his lover closer, wrapping
around him tightly. "You know that if you ever have need, you only have to
return to this desert, and I will do whatever I can to help you, do you not?"
"I do. You are a better friend than I could have hoped for.
But somehow I
doubt I'll be seeing you again. I don't plan on ever returning to
The dark-haired man smiled. "Don't be so sure. I have a
feeling that we will
meet again, Jonathan. I can't explain it, but I feel that it is true."
"Then I suppose I will have to trust in that, hm?" Jonathan settled
against the other man's shoulder, and felt sleep drag him down into her
Rick lay back in the sand, staring up into the sky. Jonathan was
He wasn't going to stay in the desert, but he would be lost to Rick just the
same. He was lost within his own thoughts, so much so that he lost all sense
of time. He came back to himself with a start, and glanced over at the fire.
Jonathan slept alone by the fire.
Eyes wide, he scrambled to his feet. Where had the other man gone?
Shit, he had to get himself back to camp now. He turned to go, and almost
walked into the Med-jai warrior.
"Damn it! What do you think you're doing, sneaking up on me like
"What do you think you are doing, following Jonathan across the sands
secret?" countered the other man. He looked complete relaxed, not surprised
"You knew I was here?"
The Arab brushed the question aside, as if it was of no importance.
away from Jonathan, O'Connell. Leave him alone. I saw the way you protected
him in Hamunaptra; his feelings are not as unrequited as he believes. You
heard what he said tonight. Don't make him choose between you and his
"Should he just be left all alone, then? Now that I know how he
that he's away from you?" Rick challenged.
The desert warrior shook his head. "I doubt that he will be alone
There is too much about him that calls to others for that to happen. Besides,
I meant what I said. I will be seeing him again."
Rick snorted derisively, but made no reply. He had to admit to
the Med-jai was right. He had come to the same conclusion while he was lost
in his thoughts. He didn't want to hurt Jonathan any more than he already
had, and he couldn't hurt Evie. He truly did love her, no matter what
feelings he had for her brother.
The other man seemed to read his thoughts in his eyes. He nodded
silently, then returned to the fire, pulling Jonathan's sleep-pliant body into
his arms once more.
Rick watched all this silently, then slowly made his way back to camp.
kept his mind firmly fixed on the woman waiting for him, refusing to think of
the possibilities he had missed, wanting to be happy in the choice he had
Jonathan grinned as he crested the dune, and the walls of Cairo finally
visible. "Hallelujah, civilization at last!" he exclaimed, sharing smiles
with the others, even Rick. The adventurer seemed a little serious today, but
far closer to his usual self than he had for most of the journey across the
The Englishman paused for a moment, allowing the others to go ahead
He twisted around, staring back across the sand. He thought he might have
seen a figure in black on horse back staring back at him.
He shifted a little in his saddle, not uncomfortable, but very aware
lover's attentions from the night before. He would be remembering that night,
all their nights, long after the pleasant ache had faded. He hoped Ardeth was
right, and that they would meet again.
A contented, wistful smile on his face, he raised one hand in farewell,
righting himself on his mount's back and following the other riders. He
didn't know what the future held, but he was ready to face it.
Especially helped by his share of the gold.