PG (I know! Bizarre)
Don't read this when you're hungry.
Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.
Seeley knew, just as well as he knew the planes of his face or the back of his hand, he knew that everyone thought they had him figured out. That nothing he could do would surprise anyone. From his boss to his old commander, the squints at the Jeffersonian to the waitress that brought him his lunch at the café four times a week, they all thought they had him pegged.
Charming to a fault. Protective without hesitation. Dogged in pursuit of a criminal, a little bit of snark and a lot of heart.
And they wouldn’t be wrong. Not entirely.
It was as he padded barefoot around his kitchen, wearing nothing but a pair of old, faded and torn jeans, long after the sun had set, he considered the people he knew really didn’t know him at all. He waited for the flames under the pan to make the water inside it boil and tossed a couple of sharply scented ginger tea bags into the froth. He put a lid on the steeping tea and turned off the heat, his long fingers moving deftly and efficiently. Then he took two ripe pears from a basket that hung on bronze chains and washed them under warm water. He peeled them quickly, letting the strips of skin fall into his sink, leaving the stems. He sliced a portion from the bottom of each pear and put them carefully in another pan, pouring wine over them, some additional ingredients and the ginger tea. He adjusted the temperature beneath the metal, watched the mesmerizing blue and gold lick up and set a lid on top.
Then Seeley poured himself a full glass of the Sauvignon Blanc and leaned against the counter for a moment.
If he let himself, he could spend each day drowning in the blood that he’d spilled over his short lifetime. If he wanted, he could have fallen into the abyss where he’d lost so many of his friends. The post traumatic stress that teased from the corners of his mind and threatened his sanity when he’d first come home, when he’d first been discharged and the chaos of civilian life seemed too huge of an obstacle to overcome.
The immediate loss of the camaraderie, the brutality, the rules and regulations and definition of his world had almost crippled him until he’d found the FBI. Until he’d found another purpose. Avenging the innocent dead by finding and arresting the guilty.
Seeley never lacked for companionship. He had too many people he could call for a date, for a game, for a roll in his big bed. But what he needed was someone that he didn’t have to entertain, someone that could sit in the quiet of his apartment and listen to music without talking over the sound. Someone that understood when he wanted to share and when he wanted to be selfish. Someone that didn’t make any demands with questions and plans and inane chatter. Someone that didn’t ask when he was getting home and where he’d been and why he hadn’t called for two days.
Yeah, they thought that they had Seeley down, he knew it … but in reality there was only one person that actually knew him at all.
He took a long drink of the crisp, cold wine and moved back to the sink, reaching up for another two pears. Seeley peeled them as his kitchen warmed from the heat of the oven and the muted flames that danced on the stove. He wondered how many of his friends in this second chance at life would be curious to see him standing here right now. Gently chopping two pears into tiny chunks on a cutting board that was scored from heavy usage. He scraped the pears into a bowl that already contained crumbled chunks of blue cheese and carefully mixed the two ingredients with a large wooden spoon.
Seeley couldn’t resist eating a slice of the pear that escaped his knife, the sweet-tart fruit made him smile as he chewed and swallowed. Exotic and familiar, sensual and comforting, all at the same time. Crisp and smooth, juicy and dry with an aftertaste that seemed to clarify everything that followed.
He spooned a bit of the mixture into the pastry lined holes of two mini-muffin pans, topped them with cranberries and cherries, then slid them in the preheated oven just as his doorbell rang.
“It’s after midnight.”
Seeley stood in his doorway, one hand on the side of the doorframe and the other fingers curled around the top of the door itself. The man that stood on the other side had his hands in the pockets of his jeans and a couple albums tucked under one arm. Bright blue eyes looked up with a smile that held more than promises, it held reality.
“Isn’t that the best time for some memories?”
“What have you got?” Booth didn’t move an inch, as if he was daring Jack to push his way into his house.
Show me how much you want this …
“David Bowie’s Young Americans, but if that’s too pop for you, I also brought some Free Bird.”
Seeley’s grin matched Jack’s for amusement as he let the door swing open.
“You can come in then.”
“Christ. I didn’t know there was going to be a test.” Jack laughed, reflexively inhaling as he walked past Seeley. “What are you cooking?”
“Pears. I’ll get the food. Turn on the music.”
Seeley returned to the kitchen, finishing the poached pears and boiling what was left in the pan for glaze. He poured it over the cooled pears in crystal bowls and transferred the pastries to a plate. Music drifted in from the living room and by the time he’d brought everything out, Jack had his jacket and his shoes off and his feet up. A single low light from a corner table bathed the room in a golden glow and Ronnie Van Zant crooned and screamed and sang from the speakers.
They sat on the couch, drinking wine and eating slowly. Savoring each bite until David was asking Can you hear me? Can you feel me inside? Show your love, love … and the couch seemed smaller, the room darker. Their fingers brushed as they reached for food, their knees were a little too close. And even if it was late, Seeley felt like the night had just begun. The anticipation was almost as exquisite as the candied pears, almost as delicate as the pastry. The seduction was as unique and precisely spiced.
When they kissed it was with cautious movements. Each of them watched the other, ready to move away at the first sign of too much, too far, too fast. Fingers reached with hesitation and tongues touched in quick, light patterns. It wasn’t as if they each hadn’t before, but not with the other. It wasn’t something they’d ever discussed, it was simply something that was recognized at the moment they were introduced. A mutual attraction that was at first denied and then accepted and then cultivated into desire, looking for that first pale white tender bloom of passion.
“Why pears?” Jack asked, he held out his glass for the last splash of wine.
Dawn lightened the sky through the window in Seeley’s bedroom. Seeley filled the crystal, a smile playing around his mouth and in his eyes. His tongue licked over kiss-swollen lips and he closed his eyes at the flavors he found there.
“The taste makes me think of you.”