“I’m sorry,” Mike said. “Come back to bed.”
Crandall spun on him, pointing a finger. “Don’t ever be sorry for saying it like it is.”
“I…” Mike sat up. His feet hit the floor, but he didn’t rise. “What do you want me to say, Crank?”
He started to say more, but Crandall stepped into his personal space and pressed his hand over Mike’s mouth. “I should apologize,” Crandall said. “Shouldn’t I?” Mike’s brows drew together in confusion, but Crandall didn’t allow him to speak. “I’m sorry, Mike, because you should be able to talk to me about anything. That’s what friends do. I…”
The urge to look away stole Crandall’s words and filled him with a deep-seated need to withdraw. Normally he’d leave the room, but this time he resisted. Sucking down several deep breaths, he tried to push away the rising darkness by focusing on nothing but drawing air into his lungs. He forced himself to maintain eye contact, staring into Mike’s eyes. Brown. But not just brown. Expressive. Crandall could see right into Mike’s head when he looked into his eyes. He hadn’t even fucking worded it right, but what he said brought out that shine in Mike’s eyes that he only had when he looked at Crandall. It made Crandall uncomfortable and, at the same time, he felt comforted; a hint of serenity bit back the ever-present anxiety. He and Mike would be alright.
Mike reached up and took Crandall’s hand. He kissed Crandall’s palm, with a long soft press of his lips. Without saying a word, Mike hooked his free arm around Crandall’s waist. He pulled Crandall between his spread thighs. When Crandall just stared, battling another sudden, and much stronger, welling of anxiety, Mike took Crandall wrists and draped them over his shoulders. He rubbed Crandall’s back, whispering soft words that didn’t reach through the cloud of panic rising in Crandall’s chest, but even though he couldn’t understand what Mike said, Mike’s voice anchored Crandall. Crandall swayed, and Mike’s strong hands braced him at the small of his back. Crandall’s eyes drooped, wanting to close down his senses, but he fought against it, not wanting to look away, not wanting to lose the delicate connection between him and Mike.
And then he realized that as delicate as it was, what tied him to Mike had more strength than a thousand cords. Crandall snapped back into his own thoughts. Panic receded, and the anxiety attack ended before it truly had control. Crandall leaned his forehead against Mike’s and finally closed his eyes. When he took a deep breath, he pulled his strength not from his lungs, but from Mike’s embrace.
“Thank you,” Crandall whispered.
Mike turned his face up, seeking a kiss, but before he could, Crandall shoved at his shoulders. “Fucking asshat, you know if you get out of my face it’s easier.”
Mike fell back on the bed, grinning despite the chastisement. “I also know you haven’t had to do that hardly at all lately. You and me, Crank, we’re good for each other. You might still get anxious around others, but you rarely do with me.”
Crandall narrowed his eyes, glaring at Mike.
Mike shrugged, but the smile still graced his lips. “I noticed when you started in on trying all kinds of sex positions, you didn’t even flinch when we did it face to face. I was so worried you’d freak out and leave me with blue balls, but not once.”
Crandall tried to hold on to his one little spat of annoyance, but Mike’s mirth enveloped him. The bastard had a point – he hadn’t once felt overwhelmed with Mike in his personal space during sex, and now that he’d pointed it out, Crandall couldn’t remember the last time he flipped out on Mike. Angelo, yeah, Max, the fucker, sure, but not Mike.
“Asshole,” Crandall muttered, but he could feel a smile curling one side of his mouth. He crossed his arms, but it didn’t stop Mike from laughing.
“Yep, got one of those,” Mike said. He laughed again, and then took a deep breath and held out a hand. Crandall took the offer and let Mike pull him back into bed.
Crandall draped his body over Mike’s in the way they both loved. All that skin contact, warm and still a little sweaty from their fucking, couldn’t be beat by anything, except fucking again. He lowered his mouth, but Mike turned. Undeterred, Crandall sucked on a sensitive spot above Mike’s pulse until Mike dug his fingers into Crandall’s ass cheeks.
“Again?” Mike whispered hoarsely. “What’s gotten into you?”
“You,” Crandall said, and then he laughed. What started as a small snicker expanded as Mike laughed too. Soon they both clung to each other rocking with loud guffaws.
When they finally quieted, they lay side by side, legs scissored together, hands sliding and snaking along skin, and lips ghosting together with light, tender touches. “Crandall,” Mike whispered through a kiss.
“Shut up,” Crandall whispered back.
“It’s going to sound stupid.”
Crandall snorted and pulled back to look into Mike’s eyes. He waited for the anxiety to swell, but his entire vision swam with Mike’s face and he felt no tremors, no spider steps of his pulse racing, no cloying darkness threatening to make him pass out or puke. “Maybe,” Crandall said. He grinned, and then let it drop. “Tell me.”