Gathered into a tight group on the couch, the three men held each other and breathed quietly, gradually drifting into a deeply relaxed state. Blair was turned to his left, leaning heavily on Simon in the middle. Jim was on Simon's other side, one hand on his captain's chest, as if he needed visual proof of the rise and fall caused by each inhale and exhale.
"Cosele..." Blair murmured into Simon's neck, drawing out the end of the word and turning it into a faint whine.
"Wecho. Cosele doa wecho..." the bigger man responded softly.
"Nachu raneb saffik..." Blair protested a bit more loudly, making Simon chuckle.
"Any closer and you'll be inside my skin, wey malched."
Blair frowned mildly and reached across Simon, grasping Jim's free hand.
"Prestu, Enqueri. Prestu. Avpra?"
Jim nodded, disentangled himself reluctantly and rose to his feet. As he retrieved the Burton, he fought to push the Sentinel back a bit and allow his other half to regain the control he'd had a short time before. He was afraid that reading English and hearing it emerge in spoken Quecha might be too much for his already over-taxed system to handle. Opening the book, he paged carefully to the section where the details of the ceremony were written.
"Okay... we start with a bath. Blair and I wash each other... then we both wash you, Simon."
"Ah, hell... what next, jammies, warm milk an' The Three Little Pigs?' "
"I'm sorry, Cosele. You didn't ask for this." Blair offered ruefully, stroking Simon's face.
"No... no, I may not like it, but it has to be and if I'm in then I am all the way in."
"It'll help the bond start forming." Jim explained. "Intimacy by degrees."
"Yeah. Hell of a lot better than all of a sudden, I guess."
Standing, Simon drew Blair up with him and tugged him over to Jim, who kissed them gently, one after the other.
"Everything will be fine." Blair reassured. "Just let it happen the way it wants to, okay? I think it'll only feel awkward if we fight our instincts and our feelings."
"I'll do my best, but don't go expecting miracles." Simon retorted lightly. Blair squeezed his hand.
"The fact that I'm here... that you two saved me and gave us the chance to make this happen the way it was supposed to... that's enough of a miracle for me, Cosele."
"Ael... ael, Yashiac. Io af saffik."
As he finished speaking, Simon startled a bit and turned toward Jim, who was slowly unbuttoning his captain's shirt and tugging it free of his waistband. "Jim..."
"Bathroom's tiny. Easier if we undress out here."
"Relax. The bath comes first. Well, shower, actually. I hope it's close enough."
"Should be. The washing is the important part. Touching, seeing... learning about each other. I don't think where we do it matters too much."
"God... you don't wanna see, trust me you don't..." Simon muttered, forgetting for the moment that a Sentinel, in the full flush of his abilities, was currently in the room. Freeing Simon's shirt completely, Jim tugged on the other man's chin and urged him to meet his Sentinel's gaze.
"Why do you think that? Hmmm?"
"Damn enhanced hearing..."
"Answer me, Cosele. Avpra."
"I... more than one woman since Joan has said... they think..."
Jim nodded slightly.
Blair hesitated and backed away one step.
"I don't know if I can, Enqueri. I want to. What happened at the house... it's getting in the way."
Jim kissed him softly on the cheek.
"We knew it might. Simon and I will help you through the cleansing ritual. For now... just watch, alright, Kerzana?"
Blair nodded slowly. Jim kissed him once more then turned to Simon, gliding his hands over the other man's bare abdomen, brushing easy fingers over the waistband of his pants.
"Hold on, Cosele. Hold on... and breathe."
"Jim, wait. You don't..."
"Ael. Shelar, Cosele. Yat duna lashde capani yonmey..."
Moments later, Simon's slacks and boxers were both drooping around his ankles and Jim was grinning at him. "Whatever it is those coytas told you... they lied."
"Hey, some of 'em were nice ladies!"
"Not if they put you down or made you feel less than the incredible man you are." Blair insisted gently. A moment later, his eyes lit up and he began to back away.
"Yashiac?" Jim questioned.
"I have a different idea about the washing. Just hang on, okay?"
Blair jogged to the bathroom and soon returned with the bottle of liquid hand soap and an armful of towels and washcloths. He placed everything on the central island then began folding one of the towels into a thick square, which he positioned on the floor in front of the kitchen sink. Jim caught on quickly and knelt to remove Simon's shoes.
"I tied 'em, I can untie 'em, thanks very much." the captain protested faintly.
"I know. I just thought I'd help. Intimacy by inches, remember? Foot up..."
Less than a minute later, Simon, now clad in only his socks, was being towed over to the sink.
"I take it he wants us to clean up out here?"
"That seems to be the idea. One I really like. We can go with the flow and not worry about bruising our elbows or knees... or anything else." Jim affirmed. Moving close to Blair, he touched his hair soothingly. "Yashiac doa fratac?"
"No... not of you, Enqueri."
Jim's expression darkened.
"It'll never happen again. Enqueri cama pahdenk Yashiac. Etana."
"He may take charge when this starts. I can already feel him demanding center stage... but he wouldn't hurt you any more than I would."
"It's okay. As long as I keep my eyes open, so I know it's you... I'm sure I can handle it."
"It's only been a few days..."
"God, I love you. Adare, adare, adare..."
"Right back atcha." Blair replied with a shaky smile as he began to slowly get out of his clothes. Once he finished, Jim efficiently followed suit and turned on the water in the sink, adjusting it so that it was just comfortably warm. Soaking a washcloth and lathering it with a bit of the hand-soap, he stepped onto the towel and held out the cloth to Blair.
"Me first?" the younger man asked, his expression deeply unsure
"Mey coroz... voa ael."
"That's all I need to know."
Reaching up, Blair swept the cloth lightly over Jim's face and neck then wet a second one and rinsed away the soap. As he switched back and continued down, Jim moaned appreciatively under his breath. "Good?"
"Mmm. Wonderful. Didn't know I was sensitive there..."
A brief smile touched Blair's lips as he repeated a stroke over Jim's nipples.
"You mean... here?"
Jim laughed softly.
"Hey, we have a long path to walk tonight, kerzana. It's great that you're feeling strong enough to tease... sek avpra paucce."
"Yashiac pende. " Blair assured him, nodding. Eventually, he had thoroughly cleaned everything above Jim's waist except his hair. At that point, he paused, hands shaking, and gazed up at Jim, who drew an unsteady breath, held it a second or two and slowly released it before responding to the unspoken plea in Blair's eyes
"If I could help you, believe me I would. That same feeling... it says I'm not supposed to. All I can say is be clinical about it. You linger..."
"Yashiac pende." Blair repeated and took his own deep breath. Swiping the warm cloth once more over Jim's abdomen, Blair half shut his eyes and swiftly moved lower, using the barrier of the thick damp fabric to help him ignore what, exactly, he was washing. Jim groaned softly but, as Blair was doing as he asked and not wasting any time, the older man was able to suppress his instinctive reaction with relative ease. Soon, Jim's legs and feet had been cleansed and the soap removed and he breathed an audible sigh of relief, making both Blair and Simon chuckle.
"Yeah, you just wait and see how easy it's not. I'll be the one laughing, then." Stepping off to the side, he lifted Blair under the arms, gently set him down on the towel and kissed his hair. "Hold on tight, Kerzana…"