Semper Fi

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Blurb:

Though Marine staff sergeant, Cameron Brightman, is miles away from the Middle East and back in his hometown Chicago, memories of the war and lost love continue to haunt him.  When he goes out for the evening, he’s reminded of the beauty the world still holds as he watches a young man dance.  Gabriel Roland is instantly attracted to the rugged Marine and wants to help him mend his wounds.  Together, they work to learn the true meaning of Semper Fi, always faithful.

Semper Fi

For a second time, Cameron dried his damp palms on his jeans.  Since reaching North Halsted Street, nervous anxiety pushed the pace of his heartbeat rather than excited anticipation.  When he first gazed upon the rainbow flags hanging outside shops and buildings, their soft rustling in the night whispering he had reached Boystown, he nearly bolted the other way.

 

He was a Marine, and yet he felt more fearful of walking into a gay bar than walking the streets of Baghdad.  He knew it was ridiculous, but he couldn’t help it.  His life entailed leading his squadron of Marines, seeking enemies, protecting the innocent, strategizing in order to survive.  It left little time to find a faithful partner, faithful being the key.  One thing he’d learned in his years, not many men were willing to wait for him during the long stretches of his absences without a few dalliances in between.  A second thing he’d learned; the only end ever achieved when sex and soldiering mixed was disaster.

 

Cameron tried to block the image rushing to the front of his mind, but it breached his mental walls; Rashid, his body lying limp on top of him, a rivulet of blood trickling from one corner of his mouth to his mocha skin.

 

Everything had seemed normal that day, or as normal as it could be while people tried to live their lives, their wary and watchful eyes betraying their fear of the worst happening at any unguarded moment.  On foot patrol, he and his squad came upon a busy corner market.  He noticed a man acting strangely, fidgeting in place, sweat drenching his hair and face.  He proceeded with caution toward the man, and too late realized the danger.  Even then, he only recognized it from Rashid’s shout of, “Bomb!”

 

The next thing he became conscious of were the panicked screams of civilians mingling with the ringing in his ears.  From there, he discovered he was lying on his back, a heavy weight pressing down on his chest.  As he looked to the source, all his years of training, all his combat experience fled him at the sight of Rashid’s lifeless face.

 

Later he learned Rashid had thrown himself on him, taking the brunt of the explosion to protect him.

 

Eight months passed, and still when he thought about Rashid, that final image always appeared first in his mind.  He had to force himself to remember Rashid as he’d been during their three months together; his white smile against his dark skin, his luminous black eyes, his slender body.  When the young Saudi Arabian had arrived to be the interpreter for his unit, there’d been instant attraction between them.  While for him to begin an affair with Rashid was risky, for Rashid, it was absolute danger.  If Rashid’s sexuality had been discovered, at best he would’ve been imprisoned and flogged, at worst, executed.  But Rashid had no fear of the punishments, saying nature was stronger than the laws of men.

 

During those first days without him, Cameron admitted to himself Rashid loved him more honestly than what he returned to him.  Had things been different, had they met and lived under different circumstances, he believed he could’ve loved Rashid as he deserved, but in a place where making it through each hour alive was a blessing, love seemed a luxury too far away to obtain.

 

Cameron stopped outside a windowless bar and stared at the wooden door.  Now he was about as far away from Baghdad as possible, back in his hometown Chicago, though he doubted he was any closer to love.  Which was fine.  Love and sorrow were two things eternally bound.

 

Cameron took a deep breath, grabbed the door handle, and stepped inside.  He froze the instant he cleared the threshold.  The bar looked to be seventy-five percent dance floor and covering it was a mass of male bodies, some shirtless, all gyrating to a pop song he didn’t know, though he at least recognized the female singer’s voice as Beyonce.  The upper section had a walkway wrapping around the perimeter from where more men leaned on the brass railing watching the dancers below.

 

Anxiety pushing his heartbeat up a couple more notches, Cameron skirted around the dance floor toward safety at the bar.  He snagged an empty stool and sat down, staring forward in the mirror behind the bar and willing himself to relax.

 

“What ya need, babe?”

 

Cameron looked to the voice and saw the bartender gazing at him with his index finger tapping an impatient beat on his hip.

 

“Gin and tonic,” Cameron answered.

 

Nodding in acknowledgment, the bartender turned to get his drink.

 

Cameron watched the dancers in the mirror.  They all looked so carefree, so happy.  It gave him a touch of pride to see people living without worry and fear on their faces because that’s why he was a Marine, to bring safety to people.  Granted, it wasn’t why he initially joined the military.  He didn’t have a choice unless he wanted to be homeless as in his freshman year of college, his parents stopped off at his dorm for a surprise visit and caught him kissing his afternoon study partner good-bye.  Amidst his father’s blows and his mother’s wailing, he caught words of “not my son,” and “never come home.”

 

When he joined the Marines, he thought he’d only do his four years, then would return to college and follow the path he originally wanted, to study education and become a teacher, preferably a gym teacher and maybe even coach football or basketball.  But he became comfortable, settled, in the Marines, and even though he couldn’t fully admit who he was, it came close to being in a family.  Of course, he hadn’t been able to admit who he was to his blood family either, so maybe it was closer than he thought.

 

There was a certain irony in that the very country he fought for, the people whose lives he risked his own for on a daily basis, didn’t want his protection if it meant openly admitting his sexuality and denied him the most basic human right to marry the person of his choice.

 

 

Cameron shook the thoughts away.  If he kept thinking like this, his moroseness would blow any chances at meeting someone tonight.  He glanced again in the mirror.  He caught a flash of light blond hair and spun on the stool to see the physical source.  His eyes widened, his heart continued to pound, though for the first time since he’d made the decision to go out, not with nervousness.

 

The young blond danced a few feet away.  His hair fell almost to his shoulders and curled upward at the ends.  Parted far to the left with much of it flipped toward his right eye, a dyed streak of bright pink ran through his long bangs.  He wore a V-neck lavender shirt, the tight material forming around his body so each wiry muscle showed through.  His jeans, fashionably faded, hung low off his narrow hips, held up only by the thick black leather, steel studded belt.

 

The blond raised his arms above his head, his hips rolling with the rhythm of the music.  The action caused his shirt to lift, revealing a line of cream colored skin and hard abdominals.  He danced with his eyes closed, his lips curved in what seemed a permanent smile.   A thickly built black guy danced behind him, though the blond paid little attention to him.

 

Cameron stared at him in awe.  So much life came from him.  The blond dripped vitality and spirit, he shone with it.  Before him was a vision of a man living and loving every moment of it.  He couldn’t help but be drawn to him, to want to experience that energy for himself, if only for a night.

 

The blond’s eyes opened, and as if knowing he was being watched and where the watcher sat, went directly to Cameron.

 

From behind Cameron, the bartender loudly cleared his throat.  Turning, he saw his drink sitting at his hand and downed half in one gulp.

 

The song ended and blended seamlessly into another.  A rush of air washed over Cameron and a flurry of motion made him peek out the corner of his eye to his right.  The blond stood two stools down from him, his cheeks flushed from dancing, his chest expanding in quick breaths.  With him closer, Cameron saw the circular shape of a ring in his left nipple outlined against the shirt’s thin fabric.

 

The bartender pushed a strawberry margarita to the blond, who pulled the strawberry off the rim, dipped it in the drink, then flicked his tongue out to lick it.  Cameron caught the silver flash of a tongue ring before the voluptuous lips closed over the strawberry.  The blond turned his gaze to Cameron, his lips on the strawberry as if in a kiss.  He smiled and bit through it.

 

“Hey,” he said, moving the piece of fruit around in his mouth.

 

Cameron gave a single nod.  “Hey.”

 

The blond glided down the bar to Cameron’s side and extended his hand.  “I’m Gabriel Roland, but you can call me Gabe, everyone does.”

 

Comforted the guy hadn’t tried any horrible pick-up lines, Cameron took his hand, noticing the soft blue hue of Gabe’s eyes.  “Cameron Brightman.”

 

Gabe drew his hand slowly back, allowing his fingers to caress Cameron’s palm.  “Cameron, it’s a pleasure.  But I have to ask, what do you do for a living?  It must be something that lets you workout a lot.  You look like the fittest guy here.”

 

Cameron averted his gaze from him.  “Um, you know, I’d rather not say, if that’s alright.”

 

Gabe tipped his head to the side, a confused smile on his lips.  “Why not?  What are you, like a secret agent?”  He let out a fake gasp of horror.  “Oh no, you’re a politician, aren’t you?  I wouldn’t want to admit to that either.”  He snapped his fingers.  “Wait!  I’ve got it.  You’re a priest, right?”

 

Cameron couldn’t help but laugh.  “No, I’m not any of those things.  But if I told you what I do, then if something happened between us and things didn’t work out, and you decided you wanted to get back at me, you could end my career pretty easily.”

 

Gabe stood silent, staring at him.  “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re either really over thinking, extremely paranoid, or horribly untrusting.”

 

Another laugh slipped from Cameron.  He realized his nerves had settled the moment he began talking to Gabe.  He felt at such ease with him.  “I think I qualify for all three.”

 

“Well, admittance is the first step to healing.  But I’m warning you, I’m not going to let you buy me a drink unless you tell me what you do for a living.”

 

Cameron held up his hands in a helpless gesture.  “Alright, you win.  I’m a Staff Sergeant in the Marines.”

 

Gabe’s grin widened more.  “A Marine in a gay bar.  How wonderfully decadent.”  He leaned closer to him.  “Don’t worry.  I won’t tell.”

 

“I appreciate that,” Cameron chuckled.

 

Gabe raised his glass and clinked it against Cameron’s.  “Well then, Semper Fi, big boy.”

 

Cameron smiled at him and lifted his glass to his lips.

 

While Cameron drank, Gabe took a long moment to admire him.  Cameron was the kind of man he dreamed about, but had only managed to find shadows of in real life.  Sitting down, Cameron was still taller than him, making him believe he had to be well over six feet.  With how the sleeves of his black T-shirt were filled with his biceps at rest, he didn’t dare think of what they’d look like when Cameron flexed for not wanting to encourage his already half-raised cock to go up any further.  The T-shirt stretched over Cameron’s broad shoulders, wide chest, and down to his slender hips.  Gabe allowed his eyes to linger between Cameron’s legs, the bulge telling him everything on Cameron’s body was in perfect proportion to his large bulk.  Reluctantly, he moved his eyes from Cameron’s package to thighs that the dark blue jeans couldn’t hide the cords of muscle beneath.

 

Gabe brought his gaze back to Cameron’s face, his angular jaw smoothly shaven, his high cheekbones, and brown eyes of a lovely almond shape.  Cameron’s hair was cropped close to his head, though he could still tell the color was dark chestnut.  He noticed then that as he had been admiring him, Cameron had been doing the same to him, and now his brown eyes were focused on a spot to the inside of his right hip.  Gabe glanced down, noticing that with how low his jeans hung and his tight shirt still slightly raised from dancing, his tattoo was visible.

 

He touched his fingers near the small tattoo.  “Do you like it?”

 

Cameron continued to stare at it.  At first glance, it looked like nothing more than a red rose in full bloom, and including the thin green stem was no longer than his pinky finger.  Looking closer, he saw peeking out from the center of the blossom was a tiny pink cock, the head and only part of the shaft visible before disappearing into the petals.

 

Cameron raised his eyes to Gabe’s.  “Yeah, I do, and I like that you’re bold enough to have a cock tattooed on you.”

 

 

“Well, they say when you get a tattoo to make sure you get something you’ll never get tired of, and I’m pretty sure if there’s one thing in my life I’ll never get tired of, it’ll be a good cock.”

 

Cameron burst out laughing.

 

Gabe propped his elbow on the bar, cupping his chin in his hand.  He brushed his fingertips down Cameron’s hand, tracing each of his fingers.  “So being a Marine, have you been to Iraq?”

 

Cameron’s laugh slowed.  “I just got back…again.”

 

“Again?  How many times have you gone?”

 

Cameron drained his glass and signaled for a second.  “I’ve been back and forth in the Middle East since 9/11.”

 

“9/11!  How long have you been in the Marines?”

 

“Almost twelve years.  I enlisted when I was nineteen.”

 

“You’ve hidden being gay that long?”

 

The bartender delivered his second drink and Cameron took a long swallow before answering.  “Yeah.”

 

Gabe shook his head.  “It seems so petty that for all the good you do, you could be dismissed with no gratitude.”

 

“I know the President is working on getting Don’t Ask, Don’t tell repealed, but I doubt I’ll see it happen during my time in the military, so I just have to deal with it.”

 

“It’s funny, don’t you think, how the government spends tons of money on ads to increase enrollment, yet discharges thousands of people willing to fight for their country because they like to kiss the same gender.  Then there are the moralists who preach how people need to marry and form stable families, yet deny it to an entire populace.  None of them can even see their own hypocrisy.”  Gabe placed his drink on the bar and turned to him with a bright smile.  He took hold of Cameron’s hand.  “But enough serious talk.  You look like you need to be shown a good time.  Come dance with me.”

 

Cameron grabbed the bar railing with his other hand as if Gabe’s slight frame could haul him onto the dance floor.  “Don’t you have a boyfriend?”

 

“Of course not.  I wouldn’t be hitting on you if I did.”

 

Cameron gave him a skeptical look.  “What about the guy you were dancing with?”

 

“He was just a body, I don’t even know his name.”  Gabe gave Cameron’s hand a tug.

 

“Come on.”

 

Cameron remained on the stool.  “I’m not much of a dancer.”

 

“Of course you’re not.  You’re a manly man, aren’t you?  But you see, I’ve already decided that I want to have sex with you tonight, so we can either dance, then go to one of our places and fuck, or we can skip the dancing and go straight to the fucking.  Dancing’s just foreplay anyway, so if you want to get right to the point, that’s fine by me.”

 

Cameron’s mouth dropped open with only a shocked cough coming out at first.  “What about getting to know each other?”

 

Gabe stepped forward, standing between Cameron’s legs.  He wrapped his arms around Cameron’s neck.  “You’re an old fashioned sweetheart.  That’s so adorable.  If that’s how you want to be, I’ll respect it, even though all paths tonight are going to lead to the bedroom eventually.  So, we can either put it off for another hour or two, dance and talk, or we can take the more direct path.  It’s your call.”

 

“Does dancing have to be a part of it?”

 

Gabe gave him a look of feigned sympathy.  “I’m afraid so, if you want to take the long path to the bedroom.”

 

Though he would’ve preferred talking to Gabe a little longer, there was no way he was going onto the dance floor.  Plus he had to agree with Gabe’s statement in how their night would eventually end.  “Then let’s get out of here.  But you should know, I don’t really have a place to go back to.  While I’m here, I’m just renting a cheap motel room down south of the Loop.”

 

Confusion drew Gabe’s slender eyebrows closer together.  “Don’t you have family that you stay with when you’re on leave?”

 

Cameron shook his head.  “My family is why I entered the military, they don’t want to have anything to do with me, and the only friends I have are other Marines.  I live on the base, but this time I needed to get away for a while, so I came back here.”

 

True sympathy crossed Gabe’s face.  “You poor thing.  We’ll go to my place then.”  His lips lifted in a smile once again.  “Especially since there are certain parts of the South Side I don’t go after dark, even with a Marine at my side.”

 

Cameron stood up and waved for the bartender.  He saw Gabe pulling cash from his front pocket and put his hand on Gabe’s to halt him.  “I’ve got yours.  It was part of the deal, wasn’t it?  I tell you my job and get to buy you a drink.”

 

Gabe laughed.  “So it was.  Thank you.”

 

Their tabs settled, Cameron placed his arm around Gabe’s shoulders and steered him toward the door.  Once outside, they hailed a cab, and Gabe gave the driver his address near Millennium Park.

 

Gabe tickled up and down Cameron’s thigh with his fingertips.  “See?  Now we have the whole cab ride to talk and get to know each other better.”

 

Cameron chuckled.  “Yeah, I guess I don’t need to talk to you for any longer than fifteen more minutes before screwing you.”

 

The cab driver whipped the car around a corner, sending Gabe half into Cameron’s lap.  He grinned at him.  “I think it’ll be less than fifteen minutes.”

 

Cameron brushed Gabe’s bangs back from his right eye, softly stroking the silken strip of pink.  “You know what I do for a living.  What about you?”

 

“I’m a grad student at The Art Institute, but I work there also while I’m going for my Masters.  It’s a dual degree in Art History and Art Administration and Policy.  After I graduate next month, I’ve been offered the position as the exhibition and research manager for the Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture Department.”  At Cameron’s dumbstruck expression, Gabe laughed and bumped his shoulder playfully against him.  “Despite how silly I may act, when it comes time to, I can actually fake being fairly intelligent and mature sometimes.”

 

Cameron drew the backs of his fingers down Gabe’s cheek.  “Somehow I doubt you’re faking.”

 

Gabe turned his head toward Cameron’s touch.  “You know, you’re already going to get laid.  You don’t have to keep being charming.”

 

“I’m being honest.”

 

The cab driver slammed on the brakes, causing them both to lurch forward.

 

Gabe glanced out the window.  “Told you it’d be less than fifteen minutes.”

 

With the driver paid, Cameron followed Gabe out and looked up the towering high-rise apartment building.  “You’re living pretty good for a grad student.”

 

Gabe grabbed his hand and led him forward.  “Actually, my parents still help me with rent.  When I took my mom apartment shopping with me to the places I could afford on my own, we went to three before she completely freaked out.  The first had a cockroach one of the cupboards, at the second the apartment next door to my potential abode was blocked off with police tape, and for the third, I think it was the hookers we passed on the stairs that did her in.  I’m an only child, so she’s nothing if not protective of me.”

 

“That’s really great you’re close with her, though.”

 

“She’s a sweetheart.  You’ll have to meet her, you’ll love her.”

 

Cameron nodded, slightly shocked at the suggestion and what it implied.

 

The doorman, recognizing Gabe through the glass doors, buzzed them in as they approached.  Gabe chimed out a friendly greeting to him as they headed across the lobby and stepped into the elevator, where he hit the number 25 button.

 

Cameron slipped his hand under Gabe’s hair and caressed the back of his neck.  Gabe turned toward him and laid his hands on Cameron’s chest, feeling the thick muscles through the T-shirt.  He drifted his hands lower, his fingers bumping over the solid ridges of Cameron’s abdomen.  Cameron moved his hand to Gabe’s chin and rubbed his thumb across his full lips.  Gabe’s eyes closed, his lips parted for his tongue to lick Cameron’s thumb.
The elevator dinged their arrival to Gabe’s floor.  Gabe opened his eyes slowly, meeting Cameron’s for a few heartbeats before taking his hand and leading him to his apartment.  Upon entering, he removed his shoes by the door.  Cameron followed his example, all the while taking stock of the space he had entered.

 

Directly to his left was a short hallway with four doors, the three furthest down he figured were two bedrooms and one bath.  The foremost doorway led to the kitchen.  To his right, the apartment opened into a spacious living room and there was another doorway at the far end leading to the kitchen.

 

Gabe disappeared into the kitchen.  “Can I get you anything?”

 

“No thanks,” Cameron said, moving into the living room.

 

Two long couches of powder blue leather furnished the room, one against the far wall, another across from a large window overlooking Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.  Cameron stood at the window, gazing at the city that seemed trying to mimic the night sky with lights shining in the dark buildings.

 

He turned from the window to glance at the walls covered in prints of artwork in a wide array of styles, from classical, to impressionism, to modern.  Bronze and resin statues stood on tabletops, in corners, along the walls, anywhere there was space.  Many of the sculptures and paintings looked familiar to him, though admittedly, he’d never spent much time in museums.  It wasn’t that he didn’t care for art; he’d just never had the chance to appreciate it.

 

Gabe walked into the living room, a bottle of water raised to his lips.  He saw Cameron looking at a print of Monet’s Rouen Cathedral Façade: Full Sunlight, hanging above the couch.  “Do you like Monet?”

 

“If that’s Monet, then yeah, I like this painting at least.”

 

Gabe smiled at his honesty.  “It is Monet.  I did my thesis on him.  Impressionism is my favorite style and Monet is my favorite artist.”  Setting the water down on a small table, he moved closer to him.  “But you better not get me talking about art.  If you do, before you know it, it’ll be morning and we won’t even have had our first kiss yet.”

 

“We certainly can’t let that happen.”

 

Cameron wrapped one arm around Gabe’s back, his other hand he buried in Gabe’s hair.  Gabe tipped his head back, his eyes closing as Cameron bent toward him.  The chaste kiss lasted only a breath before each parted his lips.  Cameron glided his tongue into Gabe’s mouth.  Gabe sucked it deeper, relishing the feel of how it filled his mouth and desiring to have more of his body filled by him.  He moved his hands under Cameron’s shirt, his fingers dipping into the indent of his spine at his lower back.

 

A hushed groan rumbled from Cameron’s throat.  Through their jeans, he felt Gabe’s hard cock against his own.  It hit him full force how long it’d been since he’d had sex.  His entire body felt flushed, his muscles tightened, his breathing quickened.  He eased back from the kiss, attempting to calm himself.

 

Gabe placed another light kiss on his lips.  “Shall we move to the bedroom?”

 

Cameron nodded, though made no motion to move.  “Before we do, I just want to let you know it’s been a while for me, so I, uh, might not last long the first time around.”

 

Gabe laughed softly.  “Yeah right.  Everyone knows military boys fuck like rabbits.”

 

“I don’t.  Or actually, I don’t anymore.”

 

Gabe noticed how Cameron’s body tensed, how his voice became tight.  “Did something happen that changed you?”

 

Cameron gazed at him, then looked out the window.  “My lover was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq.  He threw himself on me and knocked me to the ground, using himself as a shield to protect me from the blast.”

 

Gabe covered his mouth with one hand.  “Oh my god.  I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s been eight months and I haven’t been with anybody since.”

 

Silence weighted the air around them.  Cameron stood with his eyes focused on the city; Gabe’s lowered to the floor.  The silence broke as a couple forced chuckles wrenched their way from Cameron’s throat.

 

“So now that I’ve totally ruined the mood, I bet you wish we would’ve talked more before inviting an emotional basket-case to your place.”

 

Gabe’s head snapped toward him.  “No.”  He laid his hand on Cameron’s cheek.  “I don’t think that at all.  And you haven’t ruined the mood.  I’m glad you told me.”

 

Cameron wrapped his arms around him and laid his cheek against the top of Gabe’s head.  Gabe stayed still in Cameron’s arms, sensing Cameron needed this moment of comforting warmth, to simply hold someone, more than sex.  After a while, Cameron drew in a deep breath.  He moved his hands to gently cup Gabe’s face as he met his lips again.  With each second the tender kiss grew more heated until Gabe slowly drew back, took Cameron’s hand, and led him to his bedroom.

 

Cameron saw the space was covered with more art.  “Monet?”

 

Gabe stopped at the bed.  “What an exceptional student you are.”  He pointed from wall to wall.  “Water Lilies, Garden Path at Giverny, and Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge.”

 

“They’re nice.  There’s something very peaceful about them.”

 

Gabe moved his hands under Cameron’s shirt and slid it up his body.  “Then quit looking at them.  I don’t want you feeling too tranquil right now.”

 

Letting out a soft laugh, Cameron helped him remove his shirt.  He lifted Gabe’s and got his first look at the nipple ring, the steel burnished to iridescence.  The sight severed his control.  He bowed his head, sucking at Gabe’s nipple, teasing the ring with teeth and tongue.  He held Gabe around the waist with one arm and raised his free hand to his other nipple, plucking and pinching it.

 

A sigh of pleasure passed over Gabe’s lips.  He ran his hands down Cameron’s broad back and around his hips to the button on Cameron’s jeans.  As he opened them, Cameron straightened, his hands going to Gabe’s belt and jeans.  Gabe’s jeans fell to the floor, and Cameron smiled at seeing he wore a pair of lavender briefs, having coordinated his underwear to his shirt.

 

Gabe hooked his thumbs over Cameron’s dark blue boxer-briefs and brought them down with his jeans, going to his knees as he followed their descent.  Cameron’s jeans still only at his toned calves, Gabe stopped in his actions, staring at the bared cock before him curving gracefully toward Cameron’s navel.  The broad head alone looked enough to dominate the entire space of his mouth.

 

“Good lord,” Gabe said softly, then looked up at Cameron with a grin.  “Or maybe I should say, Oo-rah!”

 

Cameron let out a husky laugh.  “Great.  Now I’ll never be able to say that again without thinking of this moment.”

 

Gabe rubbed his hands up Cameron’s thighs.  “I’m glad I’ve done at least one thing to make it into your permanent memories.”

 

Cameron placed his fingertips under Gabe’s chin.  “You became part of them the moment I saw you dancing.”

 

A warm smile on his lips, Gabe lowered his gaze to finish removing Cameron’s clothes.  He rose and sat on the edge of the bed.  Placing both hands on Cameron’s hips, he pulled him closer, his mouth salivating in preparation.  “I’m confident I don’t have anything to worry about from you, but you should know you don’t have anything to worry about from me either.”

 

“I didn’t think so, but still…”

 

 

“It’s okay, I understand.” Gabe stretched for the nightstand and pulled out a strip of condoms and lube, tossing them to the bed.  He opened one condom and rolled it down Cameron’s thick length, leaving his hand on it as he opened his mouth wide and devoured the cock head.

 

Cameron gripped Gabe’s shoulder as the heat of his mouth seeped through the condom.  Since seeing the mini barbell in Gabe’s tongue, he’d been dying to know what it’d feel like on his cock and even the condom couldn’t fully block Gabe’s expertise as he circled around the ridge of the cock head.  The hard bead pressed firmly against him in relentless sensual pleasure while Gabe sucked hungrily.

 

Gabe pushed forward, forcing as much of Cameron’s length into his mouth as he could.  Cameron felt his tip hit the back of his throat, the strong muscles swallowing him.  Gabe’s hand tightened on his shaft and yanked it with forceful pulls.  Tingling heat spiraled from Cameron’s stomach and sac to meet in his cock.

 

“Gabe,” he panted.  “I’m almost there.”

 

Gabe drew back up his shaft to work the head again.  When his tongue ring pressed against his most sensitive spot on the underside, Cameron’s orgasm surged to the surface.  He let out a shout, his fingers clenching Gabe’s shoulder.  Gabe kept his lips closed around the cock, feeling the fluid fill the condom.  He stayed on him until Cameron’s cock stop pulsing, then sat back.

 

Breathing fast and hard, Cameron looked down at Gabe smiling up at him.  He returned his smile, and bent low, covering Gabe’s mouth in a passionate kiss.

 

Gabe grinned through the kiss.  “So, now you’ll be able to last longer when you get inside me, right?”

 

Cameron laughed.  “So that’s how it is.  This was all ultimately for your pleasure.”

 

Gabe raised one hand.  “Guilty.  Sorry, I’m selfish like that.”

 

“If that’s how you’re selfish, then I’d love to see you being generous.”

 

“Oh, I think you’ll get to experience that, too.  Especially since it looks like you’re ready for more.”  Gabe’s gaze went to Cameron’s still hard cock

 

Cameron gave him another smile, then turned to ditch the spent condom in the bathroom across the hall.  He walked back into the bedroom to the sight of Gabe laid back on the bed pushing his briefs down.  His gaze locked on the slender cock jutting before him, the pink tip moist, the base rising from a small patch of groomed curls.  He went to him and took over pulling the briefs down.  He kneeled at the edge of the bed and pushed Gabe’s thighs farther part.  He buried his nose to Gabe’s shaven sac, breathing in his masculine scent that was combined with the fragrance of a delicate cologne.  He licked across the soft skin, gently sucked one testicle into his mouth, then moved to the other.

 

Gabe exhaled a quiet groan.  He placed one hand on Cameron’s head, stroking his short hair with his thumb.  Cameron’s lips floated over Gabe’s cock in whisper soft kisses to his stomach.  He licked up his tight skin to his chest, unable to resist giving the nipple ring another light pull with his teeth.  He slowly drew away from him to snatch another condom and the lube from where Gabe dropped them on the bed.

 

Gabe quickly pushed back to the center of the bed.  Cameron grabbed both of Gabe’s legs and slung them over his shoulders, then brushed his slicked fingers over Gabe’s hole.  He eased one halfway into him.  Gabe’s internal muscles clenched around it, holding it in place before slackening.

 

Cameron gazed down at him while thrusting his finger into him.  Gabe’s lips were parted, his head flipped to the side, his cheeks bore a deeper flush than they had when he finished dancing.  Same as he thought when he first saw him, Cameron couldn’t help but be in awe at how much life Gabe possessed, how he reveled in the pleasures around him.  He knew as he watched him, Gabe would not be an easy man to say good-bye to.

 

Cameron put his attention back on his actions and added a second finger.  Gabe moaned and rocked on his hand.  With an upward curl to his fingers, Cameron found Gabe’s gland.  Gabe’s voice pitched high, his hand slapped down to his cock.  Cameron watched him stroking himself, his own cock throbbing with the need to release again.

 

“Cameron, please…”

 

At Gabe’s plea, Cameron pulled his fingers from him.

 

As Cameron brought his body over him, Gabe moved his eyes down his large, hard body.  He felt dwarfed by his bulk, and loved it.  He’d always been drawn to tall, thickly built men, but Cameron went beyond his fantasies with his gentle personality encased in his powerful body.  Already Cameron had endeared himself to him.

 

Gabe brought his legs off Cameron’s shoulders, but kept them bent back as Cameron reached down to grip his own cock.  He pressed the tip to Gabe’s hole, and with a forceful push, he entered him.  As Cameron’s cock head pushed past his rim, Gabe clenched his teeth with a hard groan.  He felt stretched farther than ever before, his channel so perfectly filled by him.

 

Cameron inched halfway into him.  He rested his forehead lightly on Gabe’s and whispered, “I’m not hurting you, am I?”

 

“No,” Gabe said, his voice breathless.  “You’re good.  So amazingly good.”

 

 

Cameron brought his weight down to one elbow and put his lips to Gabe’s neck, kissing, licking, sucking at his skin while giving Gabe’s body time to adjust to him.  He drew his hips back, then forward again in a careful thrust.  He followed it with a second thrust, and set a slow rhythm for them.

 

Gabe lost himself in Cameron’s motions; the feel of his hard flesh gliding in and out, his own cock stimulated by rubbing against Cameron’s firm stomach.  But he knew Cameron wasn’t giving him all he had.  He hooked his ankles over Cameron’s hips and pressed down, encouraging him to go deeper.

 

On his next thrust, Cameron pushed in as far as he could.  Not withdrawing his length a fraction, he hammered into him in short thrusts.  Gabe sank his fingers into Cameron’s back, Cameron’s weight on top of him, the strength of his thrusts, driving him into the mattress.

 

Cameron lengthened his thrusts, put more force behind them as he increased his speed.  Expelling a high groan, Gabe lashed his hands downward, his fingers digging into Cameron’s solid ass.  On each of Cameron’s thrusts, he panted words of “yes”, “god” and Cameron’s name.

 

Cameron felt Gabe’s approaching climax.  Gabe’s muscles constricted, his body jerked up, and he cried out in passion.  Hot moisture coated their stomachs.  Cameron drove into him, a choked groan leaving his throat as he came.

 

Cameron rested inside him.  When both of their quick breaths calmed, he eased out of him and climbed off the bed to make a second trip to the bathroom.  On returning, he collapsed to his back at Gabe’s side.  Gabe flipped toward him and placed his head on Cameron’s shoulder, draping his arm across his chest.  They laid in silence, Cameron feeling Gabe’s strong heartbeat against his side, Gabe feeling Cameron’s beneath his palm.

 

Gabe nuzzled into Cameron’s neck.  “How long before you have to go back?”

 

“I only have thirty days of leave and today is my second day.”

 

“Will you be sent to Iraq again?”

 

“My superiors didn’t say, but it’s likely.”

 

Gabe drifted his fingers through Cameron’s sparse chest hair.  “I was thinking that if you’d like, you can stay with me until you have to go back.  It’d be better for you than living at a cheap motel.”

 

Cameron rolled his head toward him to meet his eyes.  “You don’t have to do that.”

 

Gabe propped himself up on one elbow.  “I want to.  And it’s not all for you.  Remember how selfish I am?  I really like you, Cameron, and I want to spend as much time with you as I can to see where things will go for us.”  He smiled.  “And if things go the way I think they will, when you ship out, you may very well find yourself with a partner eagerly waiting for you to come back to him.”

 

Cameron laid his hand over Gabe’s.  “I can’t tell you how much I would love for that to happen, but it’s not an easy thing for the person who’s left behind.  Do you know what Semper Fi means?”

 

Gabe shook his head.

 

“It’s short for Semper Fidelis and it means “always faithful”.  And it’s more than my motto as a Marine.  It’s the motto I live by for life.”

 

“It’s a good motto,” Gabe said softly.  “I’d like to live by that, too.  I’d like for it to become our personal motto.”

 

Cameron gazed at him, his eyes searching Gabe’s face.  A slow smile spread over his lips.  “Do you really prefer being called Gabe over Gabriel?”

 

“I like both, but most people just end up calling me Gabe.  Why?”

 

“Because I’d like to call you Gabriel.  It suits you, and I have a feeling you’re going to become my very own private angel.”

 

Gabe lowered his smiling lips to Cameron’s.  “I hope so.”

*                                  *                                  *

Gabe walked through the galleries of the Art Institute, flanked on either side by two co-workers.  Since graduating, he loved everyday of his job, it was his passion, but also it gave him some small distraction from the ache of missing Cameron.  During their month together, he’d never felt such a connection.  A full week hadn’t passed before he told Cameron he loved him, and when Cameron reciprocated his feelings, he knew what true joy felt like.

 

Though, he also discovered true fear when Cameron was deployed to Iraq.  Cameron told him it’d be a short tour, only supposed to last four months, and he sent Cameron off with his love and a book of Monet’s paintings.  Now six months had passed.  Every morning, he would wake up and turn on the news, his heart a knot of anxiety as he listened to the latest updates on the war.  More than once he cried and cursed at the newscaster when they’d announce the death of a Marine, but didn’t give the name.  Every time his phone rang, he’d dive for it, hoping to hear Cameron’s voice, only to have his heart sink at hearing a friend or his mother on the other end.  On those rare instances when Cameron would be given access to a phone, to hear Cameron’s voice would cause such relief to pass through him as to make him dizzy.

 

He sent Cameron daily letters, never let his cell phone sit more than a foot from him for fear of missing a call.  Yes, it was obsessive, but he loved his Marine, his man, his one and only.  During the time of Cameron’s absence, he even stopped going to clubs.  When his friends wanted him to go out, they went to simple, quiet bars or to dinner.  His days of partying stopped the day Cameron was deployed.

 

As for sex, he became well familiar with his own body again, reminding himself of teenage days.  Cameron graciously bought him a new dildo and prostate massager before he left, though.

 

Gabe laughed inwardly, knowing a grin slipped onto his lips.  He’d gotten so used to doing things by himself, he wondered if he would remember how to do it with another body.  His grin broadened.  He was confident he’d remember, but learning all over again could prove fun…whenever Cameron came home.  His final thought sobered him.  All he wanted was to have Cameron safe beside him once again.

 

His ears caught the sound of quick footsteps approaching from behind.

 

“Excuse me, can you tell me what gallery Monet is in?”

 

 

Gabe slammed to an instant halt.  Slowly, he turned around.  The papers he carried slipped from his hands to the floor.

 

Cameron stood a few feet away, still dressed in his camouflage, smiling at him.

 

“Cameron!”  Gabe rushed forward.  He threw his arms around him, and before Cameron could bend to meet his lips, he yanked him down, pressing their mouths together.  Cameron sent his tongue deep into Gabe’s mouth, but had to draw back for laughing though the kiss.

 

Gabe placed both hands on either side of Cameron’s face, his tear filled eyes meeting his.  “I can’t believe this.  You’re really here.  How…” he paused.  He glanced from side to side, seeing people staring at them.  He looked back to Cameron in his BDUs and gasped, his hands flying from Cameron’s face to cover his own mouth.  “Oh my god, Cam, I’m so sorry!”

 

Cameron gently pulled Gabe’s hands from his mouth, giving him a warm smile.  “It’s okay, Gabriel.  I don’t have to hide anymore.”

 

Confusion made Gabe shake his head.  “What do you mean?”

 

 

 

“I was coming up on my re-enlistment date when I went back and I decided not to.  You made me decide not to.  Even though you never asked me to give it up, I wanted to so I could be with you.  Maybe now I can try to have the life I always dreamed of.”

 

“You won’t ever have to go back?”

 

“Well, I can’t say for certain.  Even though I’ve been discharged, they can still call me back if they need to, but I don’t think that will happen.”  Cameron took Gabe’s hands in his.  “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.  I wanted this to be a surprise.”

 

Gabe returned his hands to Cameron’s face, needing to feel the warmth and firmness of him to be certain he hadn’t slipped into a dream.  “Don’t apologize.  This is the greatest surprise of my life.”

 

His smile unwavering, Cameron moved his eyes over Gabe’s delicate features.  Gabe wore a pair of glasses, which he knew he needed for reading and that gave him the appearance of a young scholar, despite the strip of pink still streaking through his bangs.  He loved that tint of color and made Gabe promise to not change it until he got back, and now he saw Gabe faithfully kept his word that he wouldn’t.  But as he learned, Gabe’s faithfulness applied in all ways.

 

Cameron gently fingered the silken strip of pink, then caressed Gabe’s cheek.  “Can you leave and come home now?”

 

“Absolutely.”  Gabe spun toward his co-workers.  “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to miss the meeting.”

 

The middle aged woman he’d been walking with waved him off.  “Go, go!  I don’t even know why you’re still standing here.”

 

Gabe smiled his thanks, then bent to gather his scattered papers, Cameron kneeling to help him.  Hand in hand, they hurried through the museum, stopping only to collect Gabe’s coat from his office, then hastened out to the chilly early winter day.

 

Gabe spun toward him on the sidewalk.  “Every day, I’ve lived our motto.  And now, finally, we can live it together.”  He wrapped his arms around Cameron’s neck.  “Welcome home.  Semper Fi, my love.”

 

Cameron lowered his head to him.  “Semper Fi, my angel.”

 

Gabe’s lips lifted in a bright smile as Cameron’s pressed his own against them.

Copyright 2008 by S.J. Frost