Author's Note - This is a bit of a follow-up to The Gap Between, a fluffy bit of nothing before the official sequel. Dirty sexy things happen, so proceed with caution if you're squeamish.

"And so, when matter is pulled in past the event horizon, when all light and information, not to mention all matter, is swallowed into the interior...that becomes the end. But the end of what?"

There was an important reason why Sulu had to know about the paradoxical problems surrounding black holes at exactly that minute.

A very, very important reason.

"Does the information simply vanish? We've never been able to retrieve a single fragment of quantum information from beyond the horizons of a black hole, but that means nothing."

...Pavel couldn't actually remember what that reason was.

Hikaru was smiling, so it couldn't have been a matter of life or death. And there were people around then, chatting, laughing, holding drinks. So there wasn't anything serious going on.

But this was so vitally important that Pavel found himself gripping his friend's arm, making sure he understood just what was at stake.

"Hikaru. If matter becomes irretrievable than what has it become? Is it destroyed? Information can no more be created nor destroyed than energy, or matter. But if it's preserved, then how?" Pavel felt his eyes going unfocused. He blinked, hard, focusing on Hikaru's patient face. "Everything inside of a black hole...Hikaru?"

"Still here, Pasha."

Pavel nodded. That was good. "Everything inside of a black hole will stay in the black hole. This is semiclassical gravity. People argue that information escapes, that it is the only possible answer, but we have never proven it. It has never been measured. But if everything in the black hole is slowly irradiated, slowly transformed into the same single state of the black hole itself, than what of the original information? It isn't destroyed, Hikaru. It can't be. If information could be lost than energy itself, matter, the entire fabric of the universe, can be lost. If information is lost than we're all just bubbles floating around the universe, unstable and fragile and waiting to pop."

He clapped his hands together on the last word. And then blinked and looked at his hands. Didn't he have a drink a minute ago?

Maybe he finished it. He had finished a lot of drinks so far.

He looked back at Hikaru, intent. "But if information is not lost than where is it? If it stays in the black hole it will eventually change states – no! Hikaru, this can not happen! We know this! We have built endless structures upon the foundation of belief that the complete information about a physical system at any point in its existence will instruct on that system at any other point. Do you see?"

"Does it matter?"

Pavel blinked, but Hikaru was still smiling and didn't seem to be asking a real question, so Pavel waved him off.

"This is the mystery, the paradox. Information can not be lost. It can not change. It can not escape the event horizon of a black hole. So what becomes of it? Is it stored in cores so infinitesimal that the radiant state of the black hole has no effect? What then of Bekenstien? What then of the limited entropy that can be contained in a region of space?"

He noticed Hikaru's eyes wandering, going past Pavel and off towards the crowd. But that was alright, at times when he himself was so caught in a thought he found his gaze shifting outward as well.

"What of radius and energy? Information is a measurable quantity, so I ask you. What of thermodynamics, Hikaru?"

"I just don't even know, Pavel."

Hikaru still wasn't looking at him, and Pavel frowned and gripped his arm, tightly. "Do you not understand that everything in the universe that has ever or will ever exist is meaningless without the answer to this paradox?"

"He's the only guy I know who becomes more of a nerd the drunker he gets," Hikaru said, smiling over Pavel's shoulder.

"He...?" Pavel blinked. "You make no sense."

"Pot and kettle, kid."

The new voice rumbled right behind Pavel, right into his ear. Low and gruff and amused, and familiar. A broad, firm body stepped right up behind him, against him, sliding a hand on his shoulder and breathing warm against his neck.

Pavel leaned back instantly, all thoughts of whatever pointless nonsense he'd been talking about leaving his head as if it was transported directly out...

...and that was an interesting idea, wasn't it? If information itself was material, if its size and energy could be measured – which obviously it could, or else Bekenstein's bound held no weight - then why could it not be a transportable quantity? Why couldn't it be drawn from one place and sent somewhere else?

"Where is Scotty?" he asked instantly, looking around.

"Should I be insulted by that question?" came the same low, amused voice in his ear.

Pavel blinked. "What question?" He forgot Hikaru, forgot everything, leaning back into the solid warmth standing behind him, shutting his eyes for a happy moment. "Len."

"That's better. How much have you had to drink, anyway?"

"All of it." Pavel sighed happily.

There was a low chuckle in his ear, making him shiver. "All of it, huh?"

"You left me alone. I had to drink to soothe my hurt feelings," Pavel explained through his smile.

"You're the one who told me to get lost so you could solve the mysteries of the physical universe with your little friends," Len answered without a single note of apology in his voice.

Pavel turned around to scowl at him, but the scowl melted away at once. Len wasn't in uniform – most of them at the little party weren't – and Pavel adored him in his earth clothes, his dark shirts and denim...

...and Pavel had to speak to whoever decided that Starfleet uniforms couldn't contain blue jeans. Because really.

Len was grinning, flushed with however much he'd had to drink. His hair was tousled, his eyes shining without the lines of pressure and worry that were usually there. His shirt was dark red, loosened at the collar.

And he was Pavel's.

Pavel blinked at that thought and reached out, gripping Len's arm with sudden urgency. "You must promise me. Don't go into any black holes."

"That puts a crimp in my weekend plans," Len answered with a shrug. "But okay."

"No jokes! It's not funny! Information is lost, Len. Or, no, not lost, but not destroyed, and not escaped. We don't know, and I must always know."

Len chuckled. "I know, genius. You've got to know every damned thing."

"No, no, not things." Pavel relaxed his grip on Len's arm, but not by much. "You. I must always know you're all right." He frowned, because his thoughts were suddenly so sad. "If you were in a black hole I wouldn't know. You would be trapped in paradox."

"Okay, okay." Len's smile didn't fade, but it went soft around the edges the way he usually only got when they were alone. "No black holes. It's a promise."

"Thank you." Pavel beamed at him, slipping his strangely-drink-free hands around Len's waist and hugging him tightly. "You won't leave me again tonight?"

"Sure, kid. Not a huge sacrifice you're asking."

Len's voice rumbled in his chest, and Pavel buried his face close, feeling the vibrations of his words.

"I'm drunk," he murmured against that broad chest.

Len's chuckle was another comforting rumble against his ear. "I may not be a genius but I can figure that much out for myself."

"Are a genius," Pavel murmured, leaning into him and feeling like he could fall asleep happily right where he stood. "Genius about medicine. I couldn't heal a bruise." He sighed mournfully. "I don't want to wake up sick tomorrow. Shouldn't be drunk."

Len's arm slid up his back, a firm press of a strong hand that made Pavel shiver in the nicest way. When Len spoke his voice was close and quiet. "You realize there are advantages to going home with the ship's CMO at night, right? I'll make sure you're not sick tomorrow."

Pavel blinked, smiling to himself. "You told the captain that you wouldn't give out hyposprays to cure hangovers anymore."

"Well, no. Not to the captain. He'd drain my supplies in a month. Besides, actually having to suffer the consequences of his actions now and then is good for him."

Pavel braced himself and pulled away, keeping his arms tight around Len but pulling back enough to look at him. "You would for me, though?"

"For you?" Len looked down at him, his smile soft and eyes blue and kind. "Whatever you want."

Pavel couldn't have stopped himself from kissing Len if he'd wanted to – and he didn't want to, so it worked out.

It wasn't the hangover remedy – Pavel hadn't been drunk enough to get used to hangovers, of course, and he hated being sick, so he did want the remedy. But still. It wasn't that.

It was Len. That was all.

He fisted his hands in Len's shirt, hauling him close and sealing their mouths together without a thought to poor abandoned Hikaru or black holes or paradoxes or anything else in the world. All he knew was that Len was the best, handsomest, most giving and caring man in the entire universe. And Pavel loved him.

And he was a bit drunk. Which didn't make those sentiments any less true, of course, just made his reactions a bit more forward than usual.

Pavel had spent his entire life being called things – important, all-consuming things that were spoken like they were his name. He was Genius, he was Child, he was Whiz Kid or Russian or Freak. Even the people who got to know him enough to use his name, even with them he could hear Genius or Child when they said Pavel.

Hikaru and Nyota knew him enough that when they called him Pavel, it was Pavel that he heard. But Len. Len called him anything in the world, and Pavel heard his own name. Len called him Kid, a name he resented from most people, and Pavel knew that what Len actually saw was Pavel.

Not just Pavel. A good Pavel. A smart and attractive and loved Pavel. Len called him Kid and Pavel sought to live up to it, to be the Kid Len was speaking of. To be the one Len always saw when he looked at him.

It was strange. It was amazing. It was nothing Pavel had ever felt before with anyone, and it was something he wasn't prepared to ever go without again.

The solid, broad push of Len's body against his, the way his hands felt so strong and sure on Pavel's back as he held him. The rasp of stubble against Pavel's mouth and cheek, the soft push of his lips, the heat of his mouth. The feel of his dark hair soft under Pavel's hands.

There was nothing about Len McCoy that Pavel was prepared to ever go without.

He only broke off the kiss because he wanted to tell Len all these things – it had to be just as important as the black hole paradox. It had to be said. Len had to know, because Len had gone for far too long without someone near him who would tell him things like that.

But Pavel pulled back and gasped to catch his breath, and only managed to make a moment's eye contact with Len before a loud voice stole their focus.

"Ladies and gentlemen!"

He looked over, blinking eyes that were slow to focus until he saw the swaying form of his grinning captain standing on a table at the end of the room.

Captain Kirk held up his glass, waving his arm to hush the conversations. "Attention! People!"

Talk slowed and laughter came and went, until the group in the mess for the little party were all focused on Kirk.

Kirk made a big show of looking at his wrist, even though Pavel could tell he wasn't even wearing a watch. "People! It has just passed the two o'clock hour here, which I am told by my mostly sober first officer means that on Earth, in a small town in the middle of Russia, it has just passed midnight. It is officially the 24th, which means the Enterprise crew is now officially eighteen-and-up!"

There were cheers around them, eyes sweeping away from Kirk until Pavel found himself the center of attention. He felt his face blazing with heat, but he grinned at the ground and accepted the calls of 'happy birthday' without protest.

Hikaru was standing across the room – and when had he moved? - with Nyota and Spock and a Lieutenant from medical he'd been talking to a lot lately. He lofted his drink high with a beaming smile when Pavel caught his eye, and shouted something that didn't carry to Pavel across the room.

Pavel turned with a wide smile and burning cheeks, burying himself back against Len.

Len's hands moved around him easily, and his voice was a warm brush of air across his ear. "Happy birthday, Pasha."

And it was a happy birthday. It was his happiest ever. He was surrounded by friends for the first time in his life. He was his own man, an officer on a starship. The alpha navigator of the Enterprise. He was working on revolutionary projects with brilliant officers who valued his opinion.

He was Dr. Leonard McCoy's Pasha. He was in love, he was loved. Everything else he had could have been taken from him, but if that one thing remained this would still be the nicest birthday, the nicest day...

The murmurs of the party faded back, and he smiled to himself against Len's shirt. He could hear the pounding of Len's heart, faster than usual thanks to alcohol. He could feel the rise and fall of his chest.

It was ridiculous, maybe, to be so in love. Childish. But Pavel was new to eighteen years old, and he had never been ridiculous about anything his entire life.

He was due.

He leaned up on his toes and, without opening his eyes, slipped close to Len's ear. "Have we been here long enough to fulfill any obligations? I'm not very familiar with birthday parties."

Len's chuckle sent another shiver of warmth through him. "You done being the center of attention already?"

"Of their attention, yes." Pavel smiled, feeling suddenly bashful. "Not yours."

Len's arm slipped up his back, his grip tightening just enough to be noticeable. "Jim's the one that threw the party, and of all people I think he'd understand a desire for...privacy."

God, he got the most breath-stealing rumble in his voice. Pavel licked suddenly dry lips and pressed a kiss against the rough skin of Len's jaw.

"Good," he murmured into Len's skin. "Let's get out of here."

He had spent more nights than not for the last two weeks in Len's quarters. It was only practical – Len needed to be close to sickbay, and they gave officers much better quarters than regular ensigns. There was room for two people there, unlike Pavel's small and embarrassingly-cluttered room.

Then there was the added factor that Len seemed to want him to be around.

Which was nice.

It was strange to remember that this thing was still completely new. It was only two weeks since he had first practically forced Len to kiss him. Since the first night he had slept with Len in his bed.

Two weeks was the blink of an eye. But two weeks was a lifetime.

Two weeks was long enough for Pavel to gain some kind of confidence in the whole thing. Maybe he wasn't some seductive, sexy thing, but he could ask for what he wanted. He could press himself into Len's body, he could feel desire for him, could ask him to leave a party and have it understood that he meant 'go to bed'.

He was still learning a lot about the idea of love, and sex, and touching and wanting. There was so much he didn't even realize he hadn't learned yet. But he knew that he wanted to learn, and considering where he was two weeks ago...

That was saying a lot.

When the door shut behind them and Len thumbed the panel to lock the door, Pavel could already feel the tingles of anticipation prickling under his skin. He could almost feel - like some Pavlovian response to privacy, to Len's quarters, to the mood in the air - Len's hands on his skin, Len's breath on his cheek.

All the drinks from his party were clouding his head and he wished he hadn't let Hikaru keep refilling his cup. It was fun at the time, but even more than dreading the coming headache in the morning he dreaded not being able to remember clearly every single instant of a night with Len.

Len moved around the front room, setting down the small gifts some of Pavel's friends had brought to the party despite Pavel's strongly-worded protest against anyone making any kind of fuss. He went to the replimat and punched in a few quick commands.

Pavel watched him, but mostly stood there trying to clink the fuzziness from the outlines of his vision. Trying to make his thoughts stop spinning.

"I shouldn't have had so much," he said again, mournful.

"As long as you had fun, that's what counts."

He smiled faintly, blinking slowly to coat dry eyes. "It was nice."

But. It made him think too much of a birthday two years ago. Of vodka and tears, and the very last time he ever spoken to Irina Nicolai. It was one of his worst memories, and he knew he'd never be so drunk as to mistake Len for Irena, or eighteen for sixteen. But he didn't want even the shadow of it on him.

Len moved from the replimat to the table, to the small black medical bag he carried extra supplies in.

Pavel peered at him, squinting across the room. "What're you doing?"

Len looked up from his bag and grinned. "Patience, kid."

Pavel huffed a breath. He was drunk and it was his birthday, and he didn't want patience.

But Len moved around the table before he could voice a protest. He lofted a hypospray in one hand and a glass in the other.

"I could wait until morning and shoot you up with a remedy that'll take away your headache, or I can give you an inhibitor right now. It'll sober you up along with keeping you from getting sick, but I figure I know you enough to know you'd prefer that."

Pavel blinked. He flashed a huge smile, swaying a bit on his feet. "I love you."

Len flashed the amused smile of someone pandering to a drunk, and not really listening. "It's just a hypo, kid, it's not--"

Pavel reached out and gripped his arm as he made to raise the hypo. He met Len's eyes, intent.

"Wait. I want to say...this, and then you can make me sober. And it isn't alcohol making me say it. Well. It is. But not because I don't mean it, but because I can't talk this way. Sober, I mean." He blinked, wondering if he was still making sense.

Len hesitated where he was, regarding Pavel, waiting.

Must've made sense, then. Pavel relaxed. He cleared his throat and realized he wasn't sure just what he intended to say, anyway.

But the words came without much pause.

"Sometimes," he said, "sometimes I will be sitting on the bridge, plotting course corrections or just watching the stars...or I will be listening to Spock explaining some theory of practical science, or working with Scotty on transporters, or having lunch, or walking down the corridor..."

He hesitated, wondering how to put it into words. He smiled a moment later, because he knew.

"And sometimes no matter where I am everything around me just...leaves. Suddenly all I can think about is how your hand felt on my arm one night." He grinned, looking away from Len because he didn't want to know anymore if the words made sense. He just wanted to say them.

"All I can do is remember..." He brought his own hand up, let his fingertips brush up and down his arm in memory. "How you felt. Your hand on me. Not even the really...the important touches. I mean the little ones. My arm, my face, my hair. I get these shivers and if I shut my eyes it's like you're right here, it's like you're still touching me."

He shut his eyes in echo of his words, and traced the backs of his fingers across a spot on his jawline where Len had touched him one night, back and forth, over and over. Where the echo was still imprinted.

He shivered and didn't want to open his eyes, in case he was being a ridiculous child. "I...I just want you to know that. That it happens. A lot. And that every time I wish it would last longer."

He smiled suddenly, because Len had told him once that he would touch him in all the ways people had touched him before, when Pavel hadn't wanted it. He would replace those memories with new ones.

He smiled to think... "I can't remember anyone's hands but yours."


Just like that it was Len's broader fingers on his jaw, replacing his own. It was Len's hand sliding rough and strong up the line of his face, curving back down his cheekbone and over the line of his smile.

Pavel struggled to open his eyes. He blinked fuzzy vision until it cleared, until he could see Len's face perfectly.

He hummed to himself, happier with Len's fingers and that gleaming intensity in Len's eyes than he had ever been with anything. "I just wanted you to know that," he said.

Expression inscrutable, Len brought the hypo up and pushed it gentle against Pavel's neck. There was a small hiss, and a little pinch of burn as the spray injected into his skin.

And then the drunkenness, the dazed focus and the heavy feeling in his eyes and his limbs, sloughed away almost with the next beat of his heart.

Pavel blinked, like waking up from a dream.

It was a strange thing about alcohol – it gave him such a strange, intent focus. He vaguely remembered rambling to poor Hikaru about a black hole paradox, and remembered how urgent the centuries-old unsolved problem had seemed.

He remembered thinking about Len's hand as if it was the most important object in the whole physical universe.

Alcohol did that. It made him able to lock in one one thing, devote his entire brain to that one thing. It didn't create the feelings, though.

He took a moment, letting his mind settle back in to normal. And when he looked at Len, focused clearly on him and put him in the sobering context of the entire universe...he still felt like the most amazing thing ever.

Pavel smiled to himself – ridiculous child.

"Thank you," he said softly, and it was amusing that he could hear the change in his own voice without liquor thickening his accent.

Len set the hypo aside, and the glass he'd brought with him – clear liquid, and Pavel wondered if it wasn't vodka. Maybe Len thought he'd still want a little bit of the haze of drink even once he'd sobered. He didn't, though, and Len didn't offer him whatever was in the glass.

Len stepped up to him, silent, his eyes still focused and intent. Those eyes filled Pavel's vision until they were too close to focus on.

And then Len's mouth was on his, and Pavel would have been driven back by the force of it but Len's hands were suddenly around him, curving up his spine, holding him where he was.

Pavel's suddenly clearer thoughts were silenced entirely with the rasp of stubbled skin against his cheek, and the hot, needy press of Len's mouth on his.

He grasped Len's arms, driving just as hard against him. It amazed him every single time how quickly, how entirely, he responded to Len's touch. There wasn't any real logical reason for it, no direct principle to address the effect of one physical touch being so different from any other.

But it was one theory he was content not to puzzle out. As long as he could enjoy the effects, the cause could stay wrapped up in mystery. Pavel would content himself to think it was simply Len.

Len chuckled against his mouth suddenly. He pulled back, a hand slipping up through Pavel's hair and holding him, firm and gentle and safe.

"You think too damned much, Pasha."

Pavel murmured some wordless agreement, slipping up on his toes to brush his lips over that rough stubbled jaw.

"Make me stop," he mumbled into Len's throat.


Pavel didn't have time to enjoy that tone, that strained rasp in his voice. Len had Pavel turned and heading for the bedroom before he could even smile at the sound of it.

Once in the room, staring at the wide, waiting bed, Pavel leaned back against Len's body and found his own breath coming less easily.

"Wanted you sober for this," Len said in his ear, a growl, "so you can tell me exactly what you want. Anything in the universe, Pasha, just tell me and I'm gonna give it to you."

Pavel shivered against the press of Len against his back.

He stared at that bed but his focus was suddenly on other nights for the last two weeks. Moments of hesitation. Unspoken rules. Fumbling around clothes instead of removing them.

Len still struggled to fulfill his promise to let Pavel touch and kiss and bring him pleasure instead of the other way around. And Pavel didn't want to push Len any more than Len wanted to push him, but he wasn't willing to let his own past reflect on his present any more than it had to.

He swallowed and felt his heart thudding faster in his chest. It felt like someone else, anyone but little awkward Russian whizkid Pavel Chekov, who answered Len.

"Vojdi v menja, Lyonya." His face burned, his body ached. "I want you. Inside me."

There was a low groan in his ear, and the body pressed into his back tensed. "Pavel...are you sure? You've got to be--"

"I am sober," Pavel answered, hoarse. "I am sure. Will you give me what I want or do I have to beg first?"

"Jesus." Len gripped him, tense and all but vibrating against Pavel's back. "Yeah, baby, you get anything you want. Everything."

The acceptance seemed to steal Pavel's breath from him. He turned in Len's arms and found Len already coming in to meet him. The kiss was fierce, ragged, open mouths and gasping breaths, and Pavel arched himself into Len's solid, broader body desperately.

Len's hands moved down his spine, curved over his ass, pushed their hips together with a grinding pressure that made Pavel jerk and moan against his mouth. He could feel Len hard against him, could feel his own erection getting that much harder in response.

Len groaned and broke off the messy kiss to suck in air.

"Okay. Okay, shit, we're gonna do this thing right." His eyes were dark and bright, clear blue and growing glazed black as he looked at Pavel. When he looked away it was fast, a jerk of his head, as if he had to force himself.

"Let me...hang on."

Pavel was almost amused watching Len tear off through the doorway in search, or whatever he needed.

Alone, shivering, hard and aching and tense with anticipation, Pavel turned back to that bed. He'd been sleeping there for the last two weeks, but it was suddenly this big, bare thing.

He swallowed and tugged his shirt off almost absently. His off-duty clothes all made him feel like he looked younger than he was, and God knew he didn't need anything changing Len's mind, however small or innocent it seemed.

With that thought he brought nervous hands to his jeans and unfastened them, tugged them off.

And...because he had gotten down to boxers before with Len before that hesitation gripped Len and stopped him from going further, Pavel thought he probably best be rid of them too, before it had a chance to become an issue.

Nerves made his hands tremble, but he drew in a breath and pushed his boxers down, stepping away from the puddle of clothes at his feet.

He looked down at himself, long and slender and bare, his erection a strange thing standing out stiff and naked and waiting. He thought of a birthday two years ago, of Irina's beautiful sad face crumpling in horror. "Oh, God, Pavel, look at you! You're a child!"

Len had seen him before, he reminded himself sternly. Not all at once this way, but in bits and pieces until he had seen it all. Len looked at him with those intense eyes and called him beautiful.

It didn't quell his nerves, but the nerves weren't enough to make a difference.

Pavel moved to the bed and sat on the edge, eying his own erection with a certain amount of unfamiliarity.

He always felt so strange in his own skin. Like a prisoner, like a thing trapped in a cage that moved when he moved and went where he went. Maybe Len was right that his introductions to sex, if they could be called that, had left a brand of trauma he couldn't consciously detect. Or maybe Pavel was simply strange.

Maybe it was just youth. Just a phase. Because those moments he told Len about, when he was sitting somewhere minding his own business and suddenly remembered so clearly, so well, exactly how Len's fingers had grazed his skin the night before...

In those moments he wasn't a prisoner inside his skin anymore. He felt more like an honored guest.

Silly, strange child.

But, he reminded himself, Len had never seemed anything but pleased with him.

"Pav-" Len's voice cut off with a choke. "Oh, Jesus."

Pavel dragged his eyes to the doorway, trying on a smile that wanted to be confident but didn't feel entirely there. If he were anyone else, if he were the captain or Hikaru or anyone who knew how to sit naked on a bed, he would have known what to do. He would have smiled, smirked. Leaned back in some sexy, careless pose. Touched himself, even, to draw Len's focus.

But he wasn't anyone else, and his smile felt weak and hopeful and not much else.

Even so, Len moved in as if pulled by a string. He held a clear tube in his hands – lubricant, Pavel's mind supplied dutifully – that hit the floor by the bed as he reached it.

He went to his knees beside the bed, beside Pavel. His eyes were more black than blue as he gazed at him, took him in from head to feet and back up again.

Pavel swallowed and wished he knew what to do to make himself more appealing.

Then Len's eyes were back on his, and he sucked in a shivering breath at what he saw there. The heat, the desire, the want. Like Pavel was some perfect thing even awkward as he was, like Len somehow believed that Pavel was out of his reach.

He swallowed, his nerves melting away in a spark of heat. He reached out his shivering hand and slid his fingers through Len's dark hair, unable to look away from those swirling eyes.

Len shifted closer, moving on his knees until he was between Pavel's legs against the mattress. Those hands Pavel dreamed of so often, calloused and strong and broad, slipped up his legs and to his waist, hooking around him. Nudging him closer to the edge of the bed.

Len's throat worked, his eyes wandered back downward. And then he moved, sinking down until he was a pool of dark hair in Pavel's lap, and sudden fierce, wet heat wrapped around his erection.

Pavel felt a roar of air in his ears, like stepping through a vacuum. Pleasure rolled up his body so thick and instant it was like a physical force. His fingers clutched Len's hair – too tight, his mind said, but he couldn't stop it.

Len's mouth drew up the length of him, his tongue slicked wet and firm up the underside of his erection, and Pavel couldn't breathe. Couldn't get close enough, couldn't speak the endless stream of Russian, English, curses and pleas and praise that went tumbling through his head.

It made him sheepish how quickly he reacted to Len's touch. Len had murmured to him after one blushing apology that it would change, things would slow down as he got used to being touched and stroked and loved. But two weeks on he was still ready to come a minute after Len's mouth found his flesh.

He tightened his grip in Len's hair, tugging as gently as he could manage. Never wanted him to stop, but had to make him stop.

Len pulled back, reluctant it seemed, after a few tugs threatened to tear out his hair. His mouth slipped from Pavel with a last roll of his tongue over the tip of Pavel's flesh. He looked up, a question in his dilated eyes.

Pavel shut his eyes, afraid of that look and those red, wet lips. Afraid he would take a step backwards and come without even Len's touch to blame it on.

"I want..." Pavel's voice was choked.

Len chuckled, low and deep and honey. "That what you're worried about?" He slipped up on his knees, hand slipping to Pavel's neck to angle him down for a gentle kiss.

"This is just the opening act, darlin. You're getting what you want, I promise you that."

He swallowed Pavel's gasping answer in another kiss – not so gentle. Deep and slow, probing, slick with tongue and teeth and swollen lips. And promises.

Pavel didn't protest, couldn't have even if he'd remembered how to talk.

When Len buried himself back in Pavel's lap and it took only another minute for Pavel to erupt into his warm mouth, Pavel didn't bother trying to feel sheepish about it. He just sagged where he sat, panting for air.

It was almost like that hypo of inhibitor all over again. Once he had come, his heart slowed and his thoughts cohered enough to regain some kind of control. It was like one more dash of sobriety, and suddenly Pavel found himself much clearer about how this night should go.

He tugged Len up, though the warm drag of his jaw on Pavel's thigh was doing incredible things to his already sated body. It felt strange – good strange, almost decadent – to be thrumming from an amazing orgasm with Len on his knees there, still fully dressed.

Not good enough, though.

He locked eyes with Len, reaching out to work clumsily at the buttons down the front of his shirt.

Len's body was so different from his. Strong and broad everywhere – broad shoulders, thick chest, strong arms. Every man who had ever touched Pavel had been bigger – or maybe just bigger than the hopelessly young thing he had been.

But on Len there was nothing intimidating about it. Pavel looked at that solid strength and thought, mine.

He didn't know what showed on his face when he looked at Len – he wasn't sure if he properly echoed the arousal in Len's eyes when he looked at Pavel. But he hoped so. He felt it – aroused was the least of what he felt - and he wanted Len to know it but he didn't have those kinds of words in his head yet.

He slipped that dark red shirt from Len's shoulders and spent a few necessary, greedy moments just letting his hands explore. Over those shoulders, down those strong arms. When he'd had his fill, when his breathing was starting to rasp and his cock was starting to show some tired interest in things again, Pavel looked back up into Len's eyes.

"Anything I want, you said."

Len's face was flushed, his lips parted. His throat worked but he nodded. "Name it."

"Stand up."

Len obeyed, moving a bit awkwardly. Pavel worried for a moment that it was reluctance, but then he saw the outline of Len's erection straining against his jeans, and he relaxed. Smiled.

Good. That was what he was after.

He reached out to Len again, looked up his body and smiled softly at him as he reached for the zipper of his jeans.

Len met his gaze for just a moment, then groaned and shut his eyes, turning his head. "Jesus, Pasha."

Pavel smiled to himself, figuring the button out after a moment – it was harder than it seemed doing it from the other side of the clothes. He slipped the zipper down, slow and careful around the tented bulge trying to escape. Len's groan made him shiver, made him lick his lips absently.

For all that Len had seen most of Pavel naked, he was a lot less free with himself. Or else he was less willing to let Pavel take the time to enjoy him. Not out of any shyness, at least not that Pavel could tell. Just out of that same stubborn reluctance to keep Pavel from having to take an active role.

He didn't want Pavel to ever feel like he had to. That was what he'd said once. But Pavel was smart, and two weeks was more than enough time to learn that lesson. Len didn't seem to understand that.

Well, tonight was Pavel's night, and Len would know it by morning.

Pavel was shy about himself in some ways, but when he had a purpose, a mission, he was as focused as any Vulcan, and as unflappable.

He stopped worrying about what more experienced people might do, how they would react or where they would touch, how they would pose and move.

He didn't care about how other people did things. He was a genius. He would figure out his own way.

With that thought burning determination into him, he pushed Len's jeans down his thighs and to the floor.

"I think you should wear these more often," he said, musing, as Len stepped out of the denim and toed the jeans to the side.

Len chuckled, gruff. "Yeah?"

"Well, other times. Not tonight. Tonight I think you shouldn't wear anything." He let his fingers trail back up Len's broad thighs, up to the line of the Starfleet issue boxers that matched Pavel's. He hooked his fingertips around the elastic at the waist, feeling a thrill running through him.


Len stood still, nothing reacting but his already uneven breathing. Pavel smiled and slipped those boxers down, careful and slow.

Broad, he couldn't help but think. Broad and thick, like the rest of him. Dark hair thick at the base of him, the shine of wetness at the tip. Standing out from his body, showing the reactions Len wouldn't let himself show in any other way.

Pavel licked his lips again, swallowing down apprehension. He didn't know what he was doing, but that was nothing new for Pavel. He had always jumped into things before anyone got around to teaching him. He was a quick study, he usually figured things out well enough.

Len wasn't looking down at him – stubborn man, but if it kept him from trying to object Pavel wasn't going to protest. Besides, it gave Pavel a bit of a wicked edge.

He leaned in, not touching once the boxers were down and out of the way enough. Not speaking, not doing anything that would give Len any warning. He simply leaned in and wrapped his lips around that gleaming dark pink head.

Len's whole body twitched, his breath stuttering with an audible choking sound. "Pasha, you--"

If he heard another protest, another you-know-you-don't-have-to, Pavel would start to get irritated. He shut Len up fast by slipping more of that flesh inside his mouth, and wrapping his hand around the broad base of him.

Len shuddered and leaned, groaning, but Pavel didn't focus on it. He focused on the task itself.

It was interesting, the feel of that flesh. Soft skin, but thin, and rigid underneath. Veins so prominent he could trace the lines with his tongue – and did after he caught the way Len's groans went up so sharply. Warm, thick and bitter with a sharp taste that wasn't...great...but was definitely tolerable.

He experimented, as was his way. Suction was awkward, and it didn't make Len gasp the way just moving his tongue could. Holding his lips tight, dragging his mouth up and down, made Len's knees seem to want to buckle. That was a good reaction.

The vein underneath his cock was a hot spot. The line of flesh where the head of his cock flared out, that was another one. He traced that line with his tongue and Len had to grab his shoulder to stay upright.

God, he loved research. Cause and effect, experimentation. He should have been doing this all along – and he wished Len luck if he thought he would ever stop him again after tonight, after his first taste.

Len's hand moved from his shoulder to his hair, slipping in and holding tight. "Pasha. Pasha, fuck. Hang on."

He growled his protest at the words – and wow, another nice reaction there, another thing to experiment with – but he looked up without pulling back, his head tilting awkwardly.

Len wasn't looking away any more. He looked straight down at Pavel, rapt, hypnotized if he could even see out of those glazed eyes.

"Jesus, kid, wait. I'm not gonna last if you keep--"

Pavel smiled around the flesh in his mouth – another groan, nice, he had a long list of things to play around with after tonight – and pulled back.

"You're not supposed to last," he said, his voice rough, his lips aching. "You're supposed to go again."

Len laughed, a shivering wreck of sound. "You're the only eighteen-year-old here, kid. I don't have--"

"You can do it." Pavel smiled, sweet, knowing how the innocent eyes would probably look right about then. Len was an idiot to think Pavel would accept his age as some excuse anyway. He wasn't even old. "For me."


He slipped back in without letting Len protest, though he did listen to Len's groan, to the way that groan changed tone and pitch when Pavel took him in his mouth again.

Experimentation. Causality.

Because he did this, Len did that.

Because he took Len deep into his throat until he worried about gagging, Len stroked his hair and held perfectly still and just rumbled, like an engine revving for work.

Because his tongue stroked over the head of Len's cock like he was an ice cream cone in danger of melting, Len's hand went from stroking to gripping his hair, and Len tilted his head back and called to his Jesus.

When he tightened his fist around the base of Len, Len's voice dipped so low it was more vibration than noise. When he stroked his hand up and down with his mouth, Len's voice rose and cracked.

Because he did all these things, felt and tasted and heard those helpless reactions, Pavel himself was hard as a rock already, throbbing and aching and feeling like he could do this for hours. The ache in his jaw was a laughably small complaint measured against the throbbing ache starting to pulse through him.

Cause and effect. When Len's groans got higher, less controlled, Len tried to pull away from him. When Len tried to pull away Pavel reached out, let his greedy hands circle those broad thighs and curve back to hold him right where he was.

When Pavel held him, and sucked him, and found himself making hungry little sounds like he'd never been so ravenous for a meal...that made Len tense and still and try fast to push him away, and then just as fast pushed in to him when Pavel refused to go.

When Len came, came into someone's mouth, into his mouth, Len groaned strangled profanities and made them sound like sacred oaths.

Maybe it didn't taste all that great, but it would have to burn him like acid before this would ever be not worth it.

Len seemed unsteady on his feet afterwards. When Pavel finally let his intriguingly softening flesh slip from his mouth Len stumbled over a step and dropped onto the bed, sitting limp and dazed and then dropping on to his back with eyes shut and mouth still muttering the sweetest curse words.

Pavel swallowed the last of that strong taste, considering it. The paradox of it: consciously aware of the unappealing flavor, but at the same time so hard from it. So eager to get down there and do it all over again.

He looked at his own erection with less distrust this time – he understood it now. He glanced at Len's limp body – naked, solid, strong and man and somehow Pasha's – and he cleared his throat.

"You will let me do that again."

Len made a sound that might have been meant to be a laugh, but seemed to get stuck halfway until it just rumbled like bubbles hitting the surface of a still body of water.

"Often. So I can improve."

"Improve?" Len blinked one eye open, and then the other – cause and effect? - and looked at Pavel with that wonder he sometimes got on his face, the wonder that made Pavel feel about ten feet tall.

"You ruined a lot of grading curves back in school, didn't you?" he asked, reaching a hand over to Pavel.

Pavel smiled. He slipped his fingers through Len's and sank down to join him on the mattress. "I made a lot of enemies in classes, yes."

Len chuckled, still breathless but starting to regain a little energy if his sheer ability to enunciate was any indication. "You amazing fucking kid."

"I'll let you apply three of those four words to me." Pavel's smile grew until it felt silly, but stifling it felt wrong. So he'd look silly, so what? Pavel had never been scared of embarrassment. He had never been scared to make a fool of himself. Not if there was something to be gained from it.

Len didn't have that. Len kept himself well protected from embarrassment. He was gruff, he tried to make people think he didn't care. Because if anyone knew he cared they would know how badly he hurt when things went wrong.

Len was so strong, but he didn't seem to know it. He seemed to think he had to put on a strong mask to cover what was underneath. He didn't realize...

Well. Len didn't seem to realize a lot of things.

"Do you know, Len?" Pavel spoke through a softer smile. "When you offered me anything in the universe and I chose wasn't because we were already in the bedroom and I've got lazy ambitions."

Another chuckle, but tentative.

"I don't say it, I don't want it, because I think it would please you. In fact, I ask it in spite of you. I'm being selfish, asking you to step beyond where you're comfortable. But I think you're only uncomfortable on my behalf, so maybe selfish is the wrong word."

Len slipped onto his side, snaking a hand under his head to brace himself, and watching Pavel with those incredible blue eyes of his that always always looked for ways to help, to heal, even when nothing was wrong.

Pavel pushed himself up to return the look. "I love you, that's all. It makes me want this so much that it's hard to be selfless and patient."

Len's gaze drifted to the cover under their heads. He got a faint, crooked smile on his face. Silly kid, that smile said.

Pavel forgave him that.

It wasn't a lack of self-esteem that made Len hesitate all this time to have Pavel touch him. It wasn't evenan issue of self-esteem when Len couldn't believe Pavel as he argued over why he wanted to touch so badly.

It was Her.

Floating there, following in his axis like an electron. Sometimes not right out in front, but always somewhere near. Always around him.

There were few things in the universe that Pavel couldn't make sense of – dark matter, whether renormalization group evolution of three gauge couple constants of Standard Model elementary particles actually proved hole paradoxes – but there was nothing as unprecedentedly baffling as the idea of a person who could not only leave Leonard McCoy, but could choose to hurt him as she went.

The mask Len wore now, the mask of gruff, impersonal strength he thought he had to wear...she had made it for him. Woven it with her own horrible hands.

So Pavel had to be understanding of Len when he laughed off Pavel's words as if they were unneeded flattery. He had to be patient with Len. He would get through to him in time.

Len had done as much for Pavel, and Pavel's ghosts had been strangers. His pain was in memories that lasted fleeting minutes.

Len wasn't so lucky.

Pavel realized with a sudden faint smile that he had Len alone on a bed, naked, and he was wasting the moment thinking about Len's ex-wife.

Some genius.

He reached out and let his fingertips drift over Len's chest. He was so entirely fascinated by Len's size, by the sparse swirls of dark hair over him. The way he was so solid. "Ty chudesnoj, Len. Ja dumaju o tebe postojanno."

Len's eyes had shut during the silence, but he dragged them open again to peer over at Pavel. "Hmm?"

"Nothing." Pavel smiled. A way to cheat the ghost of Len's ex – speaking how he felt in Russian, so Len wouldn't deny it or wave it off, and Pavel could be as open and ridiculous as he wanted.

He was still hard, even Len's wife hadn't made him any less hungry for Len. Once he started touching he couldn't make himself stop.

He hadn't ever been naked with Len before. Never skin to skin, not completely. It was too strong a temptation to resist.

"Ty nezhnoj," he murmured as he slipped in closer, pushing his body, erection and all, shamelessly into Len's just to feel the strange, amazing, intoxicating feeling of flesh against flesh. "Ty chudesnoj, ljubimyj moj."

Len's arms were around him in seconds, strong against his back. His mouth trailed over Pavel's temple, easy kisses that stirred up something warm in Pavel.

"Pasha, God. You..."

Pavel smiled against his throat, kissing the vibrations as Len spoke. "Ljublju tebja vsem serdcem, vsej dushoju."

"Come on, kid, I can barely speak Standard." A joke, but Len's voice was gravel, covering up his stirring arousal.

"If I say it in English you'll laugh at me," Pavel murmured, slipping his restless mouth down to catch that dark chest hair against his tongue.

"Maybe," Len conceded. His fingers hooked through Pavel's hair.

Pavel rewarded his honesty by slipping over and exploring the dark pink skin of one pebbled nipple. He toyed at it with his tongue, and Len's hand tightened as if to hold him right where he was.

Cause and effect.

Pavel shut his eyes, smiling to himself, nuzzling the hardened nipple with his lips. God, he was really going to have to schedule a week off soon and convince Len to stay in bed the entire time, because there was so much to be learned there.

"Ja zasypaju i prosypajus' s mysljami o tebe." One day he would be able to tell Len how he felt in English. One day Len would be able to hear it, and believe it. One day She would be gone from him.

That was a promise. A mission.

Pavel smiled against Len's skin. There was one thing he could say now, anyway, and even in Russian he knew Len would understand. "Ya tebya lyublyu."

Len's hand tightened in his hair, urging him up. Pavel went willingly, meeting Len's mouth in a heated kiss. Len's arms slid around him, pushing their bodies together tightly.

It was intoxicating, the feeling of skin against skin. The warmth of Len, the dizzying feeling of Len's softened cock against Pavel's thigh. Len's hand as it slid up his spine, traced down again. And then lower, tracing a path down his lower back down to his ass.

Pavel kissed him hard, hungry for Len in a way he hoped Len could feel. The rasp of Len's perpetually stubbled jaw was a welcome burn, matching the flush rising in Pavel's face as Len stroked down his body.

Len's hand traveled down to Pavel's thigh and nudged, cupping him to pull his knee up across Len's legs. Pavel moved where he was nudged, going breathless when he realized the reason for moving his leg – when Len's hand moved up again and his fingers brushed up the cleft of his ass.

Pavel let out a shuddering breath against Len's mouth, strangely self-conscious for all his relief that Len was going to grant him his wish after all.

"Love you, too," Len murmured against his mouth, trailing his lips over Pavel's jaw, up his cheek. "Gonna take care of you."

Pavel shivered, bringing his knee up higher to give Len's fingers more room to explore. "Please..." He didn't even know what he was asking for, just that feeling Len's hand on him and feeling Len's cock stirring to slow hardness under him was making him ache, making him hurt with it.

Len rolled them over suddenly, bracing his arm to hold up some of his weight. "You ready for me, Pasha? You ready to do this?"

Pavel nodded, almost frantic. "Please, Len. I want you, want only you. Pozalujsta..."

"You know what it does to me, hearing you beg?" Len sank down into a kiss, deep and wet and slow. His body covered Pavel like a firm, heavy blanket. "Makes me want to give in."

"Da, Lyonya. Please, please..."

"Makes me want to fuck you so good you come apart, honey." And it was...holy, the things rumbling in Len's voice. Pavel had never heard him sound like that, so gritty and warm and rough. Thick, like his arousal was actually cutting into his vocal chords.

Len liked hearing him beg? Pavel would have crawled into sickbay stark naked, on his hands and knees, would have let the entire crew watch him plead for Len to deliver on the promise of his words.

"You trust me, Pasha? You trust me to make you come apart?" Len drew back, studying Pavel's face. His hand slipped up, fingers brushing light down Pavel's cheek.

Pavel nodded instantly, but when he studied Len's face he could see the importance of the question to Len. Len had been so slow, so patient, because he simply didn't want to hurt Pavel in any way that could be compared to the people in Pavel's past.

Pavel might have told him instantly, without even thinking, that what they had in that bed was so far removed from the man in St. Petersburg, or the student at Starfleet Academy, that nothing could make them compare. It was loop quantum gravity versus string theory – sure, they were both looking to achieve the same goal, but the facts of them were entirely incomparable.

Instead, since he made a mess of explaining things when it really mattered, he just looked up into Len's eyes, sincere and steady.

He spoke softly but his words were as steady as his gaze. "I trusted you with my past and you healed me. I trusted you with my heart and you loved me back. Trusting you with my body is a small thing in comparison, but it's something I do willingly."

Len's eyes closed for a moment, his head dipped. He drew in a slow breath. "Some of it might hurt. I don't--"

"Some of it hurt when it was my past and my heart on the line." Pavel leaned up, brushed his lips light across Len's. "You know it was worth it. You must know that."

Len nodded. He followed Pavel back to the pillow and kissed him against, light but searching. "For me, too. You should know...doing this again with someone, after..."

Pavel almost kissed him to silence him, because suddenly She was right there with them.

But Len's eyes opened and he smiled, crooked and self-conscious-looking. "You never gave me a choice, though, kid. And I'm so fucking glad about that."

Pavel just smiled.

"God, you don't even...want to make this good for you, Pavel. Want this to be better than you ever dreamed of." Len kissed him again, light and quick before sliding over his jaw, down the crook of his throat.

Pavel arched back, opening his mouth to answer but shutting it again uselessly.

Len reached out and grabbed the pillow beside Pavel without stopping the trail of kisses. He slipped the pillow down the bed, and nudged Pavel's side.

Pavel rolled over uncertainly, heat rising to his face as Len slipped the pillow under his hips, under his still-aching erection. He brought his arms up sliding his hands under the pillow at his head, laying his cheek against it.

He had read, of course, the basic mechanics of sex. But basic mechanics didn't tell him what do do with his hands, or how to hold himself. Whether to move, to relax, to do anything at all.

"Len, what..."

"Nothing, baby." Len answered instantly like he was inside Pavel's mind thinking the thoughts with him. "Just let me know how you're feeling now and then."

Pavel shut his eyes, flush heating his face, but he lay there and tried to relax and not focus too much on anything.

Len's hands slid down the line of him. Careful fingertips stroked down the small of his back, over the curve of his ass. Pavel might have gotten self-conscious – it was his ass, after all, and no one had ever wanted or received a close-up view before – but Len's touches were warm, and delicate, like Pavel's skinny body was this fragile thing he didn't want to disturb.

Len shifted behind him, but Pavel didn't look back. He felt the bed dip and creak, but he never felt the warmth of Len's body move from his side. He did feel a sudden strange touch, soft and rough all at once, and he blushed to realize Len had kissed him, kissed the small of his back. The curve of a cheek.

He shivered, juggling apprehension and arousal in equal measures.

There was a small, plastic sound, the opening of a tube, and Pavel remembered the lubricant Len had brought in with him and dropped.

Pavel swallowed, wanting and scared, and held his breath until the first cool, slick touch of Len's hand on his skin.

Len spent long, slow minutes stroking fingers that were slick with lubricant between Pavel's cheeks, up and down the line of him until Pavel knew this would be another of those touches he found himself getting lost in later on, away from that bed. The apprehension began to fade, the warmth of arousal overtaking it, but he was so still and relaxed that he felt almost sleepy with it.

Pavel was so relaxed that Len's finger slid inside of him without pain. Just a slow kind of stretch and a sudden pressure in a brand new place. It was a strange feeling, but Pavel's body trusted Len as much as Pavel's mind did, and it didn't protest the intrusion.

There was a blushing kind of self-consciousness in it, and Pavel understood why Len had urged him onto his stomach. He must have known Pavel would want at least some amount of distance.

Len went slowly, but Pavel didn't urge him any faster. In this he trusted Len, and if Len were to cross the line into this one thing, Pavel didn't mind.

His body was still a stranger to him, though he liked being aware of it more than he ever had. It was strange to him to be doing anything so entirely physical. Even running for him was a time to get his thoughts together, to weigh theory and trouble out problems in whatever he was researching. Running was another form of thinking.

This wasn't. He couldn't keep a thought clear from start to finish.

He could hear Len's deep, steady breathing behind him. Could feel Len shifting, focusing. He could feel his own body, this strange thing his mind was attached to, growing warmer. His stomach was curling in slow, lazy loops, his erection was throbbing in time with his pulse against the pillow underneath him.

It wasn't hard. That was strange, wasn't it? It wasn't hard to stay relaxed, to accept a second finger. It was a different feeling, but...

But he felt the pressure inside him, he felt the stretch of muscle around fingers, and he thought, Len.

"Pasha?" Len's voice was low and smooth.

Pavel blinked as if stirring from some kind of stupor. He smiled into the pillow, and when he spoke it was with the same almost-drunken slur he'd had at the party with a liter of vodka in him.

"'s good."

"Think so?" Len's drawling voice had a sudden edge to it.

And his fingers slid in, nice and smooth, and suddenly....


...did something.

Pavel nearly jumped, his heart suddenly kick-starting into triple speed. His body wasn't lazy anymore, wasn't drunk or relaxed. Suddenly he was completely inside his own skin, feeling this sheer physical pleasure he hadn't ever...

Len did it again.

Pavel whimpered, eyes squeezing shut and his hand fisting in the sheet by his head. "Len! What--"

"You don't know what that is?"

Pavel's research-crammed mind said 'prostate' but his body said that it had to be more.

Len did it again, whatever it was. "That's the beginning, Pasha. Just the beginning."

Pavel couldn't stop his hips from pushing into the pillow. He couldn't slow his heart, couldn't keep from letting little helpless sounds escape from his throat.

It was like the pulse of orgasm, but not so final. Like small jerks of premonition, little deaths leading to the Little Death. This was what he felt when Len's mouth was on him, or his hand. This was what made him hungry to try more, to research, to never leave the bedroom even if there were courses to plot and research to do.

His hips pushed in to the pillow beneath him, and then up again into Len's hand. He shivered with every slip of Len's fingers, whether they did their little trick inside his body or not. Suddenly every inch of skin felt over-sensitized and aware – the pillow sliding soft and firm against his cock, the sheets crumpling inside his fists.

Len. Not just his fingers, either. Pavel could feel Len's eyes on him, making his skin ache to be touched.

"Fuck, you have no idea what you look like right now," Len breathed behind him, sounding reverent.

Pavel shuddered and squeezed his eyes shut hard. "Please...please..."

"Please what, baby?"

He didn't know. There wasn't an answer. All he could think, all his body could tell him, was please.

He felt the sudden stretch as Len worked a third finger into his body. Pavel whimpered and told his begging body to relax.

Len's fingers worked, moving more slowly as he adjusted to the width of them. Pavel heard the bed creaking, and then Len's breath misted warm on his skin. Len's mouth, soft lips and rough skin, nuzzled against the small of his back. He kissed and mouthed a slow trail of Pavel's spine, hand working slow and careful, breath rasping heavily against Pavel's overheated skin.

Between kisses his voice dragged like sandpaper against Pavel's skin.

"Jesus, baby. So beautiful like this. Fucking perfect, fucking beautiful, just for me. Christ."

Pavel's next breath was a sob, and his entire body wracked with a fierce shudder. His hips pushed him into the pillow. He made a harsh, helpless sound that hardly sounded like it could have come from him.

The pillow under his hips was suddenly damp, warm, but the pleasure rolling through him didn't even slow. Coming didn't do a thing except make his cock feel that much more sensitive as he drove into the bed.

Len's quiet, rough words trailed to a stop, his mouth absorbed in the task of tracing Pavel's spine up the line of him. Those three broad fingers pushed in and out of his body faster by then, and though Pavel could still feel the stretch of them, all they made him feel was empty. Hungry for more.

It would hurt, Len said, and Pavel didn't doubt it. But the fingers weren't enough. They were Len, but not Len. It made no logical sense, but Pavel was way beyond logic.

He couldn't have put his need into words even if he knew what to say. He just arched his back, pushed his ass up into Len's hand in silent encouragement. In a plea that he was ready for more. He needed, he felt it worse with every stroke of Len's fingers.

Len swore under his breath in that way he had that made the words sound like prayer. He slipped up Pavel's body, his fingers driving deep and then locking in place inside of him.

"Baby. God. You ready? Tell me you're ready." Len pressed hot-feeling, open-mouthed kisses at the back of Pavel's neck.

Pavel couldn't speak. He made a strained, foreign sound in the back of his throat and surged up, impaling himself further on Len's fingers and praying it was answer enough.

"Okay. Okay, Pasha." Len sounded like he was moments from coming apart. His mouth left Pavel's tingling skin, and his finger slid slowly free from him.

It was horrible. Empty, and cold and lonely. Pavel choked on a breath, driving his face into the pillow and whimpering for being abandoned.

But Len was there in an instant, hands curving over Pavel's cheeks and pushing them apart. He was breathing so hard Pavel could hear it, and muttering half-finished words that were more slurs than language, but unmistakable in their arousal.

Suddenly he was in place, thick and broad and blunt against Pavel's opening. Pavel held his breath, hands aching from knuckling the sheets so tightly. Len, and please, was all he could think, over and over. Len. Please. Please, Len. Please please--

And then Len was in him.

Thicker than fingers, unflexible, stretching him painfully but it was Len. Pavel felt tears on the pillow under his face, felt a give in the sheets he was clenching so hard. He felt every careful, slow inch of Len working his way inside. Felt the press of Len, the press of himself around Len. The heat of Len's body as he slid the last inch in, deep as he could go, and his body lay flush against Pavel's. He was holding his weight up on one hand, but his legs nudged between Pavel's, his stomach pressed flat to Pavel's back, his thighs to Pavel's.

Len. Everywhere, every thing, Pavel's entire world. Around him and above him and inside him, and Pavel had never felt more cherished in his life. He had never felt more himself. Never had his mind been so a part of his body, so focused on being part of this mindless, physical thing.

He could hear Len behind him, groaning and murmuring, but the words made no sense. Pavel heard his own name and hardly recognized it. He heard more of those rough compliments, perfect and beautiful and tight and made for him and a hundred other things, and for the first time in his life Pavel felt like he was entirely in agreement of compliments being directed at him.

He felt beautiful and perfect. He felt made for Len.

Len moved achingly slowly, until Pavel could feel every centimeter of him pulling slowly out and driving carefully back in. Len shifted, mumbling words into Pavel's back, angling each slow thrust slightly differently.

Pavel realized why when one of Len's thrusts made his cock do what his fingers had done earlier, finding that spot inside Pavel and rubbing firm against it.

Pavel...came apart.

He shuddered, and then couldn't stop shuddering. He whimpered and then couldn't stop desperate, ecstatic sounds from pouring out into the pillow. He stopped thinking in words and couldn't start again. Not even Len, not even please.

In a way it was like being drunk – he missed hearing Len's guttural words, missed the details of his movements. He missed the moment Len's body started driving faster into him.

He didn't catch the moment Len's hand slipped beneath both their bodies to find Pavel's somehow-hard-again cock. He didn't even really notice when he spurted into Len's hand, his third orgasm that night.

He lay there and felt, felt the sweat slipping down his own spine, felt Len's mouth sliding to catch it. Felt Len's cock inside him like they were designed to fit together, and he had never been a truly whole being until the moment they were connected.

He sobbed into the pillow, writhing against Len's hand, up into Len's body, until even the fragments of coherence he had were driven out by the pulsing pleasure inside him.

When Len drove into him a last time, fierce and deep and hard, Len's cry of release broke over him a wave. And the process of coming apart was completed.

It pushed him past consciousness, and slipped everything in this amazing new world away from him as he fell into blackness.

The next thing he was aware of was the tantalizing scent of coffee and bacon.

Len and his big breakfasts.

He didn't open his eyes right away. He lay there for a long time, grasping tightly onto his memories as hard as he could.

Every inch of him was warm, limp and heavy. He could feel a distant ache in his ass, a little glimmer of imperfection that just put focus on how perfect every other thing in the universe was.

His mind seemed to be in no hurry to shake its new connection to his body, and he smiled into the pillow without opening his eyes. Pavel wasn't a stranger to himself suddenly. He felt more in tune to his body than he ever wanted to be before Len.

When his stomach growled he laughed, soft and helpless. Such a strangely normal thing to feel, hunger.

He sat up, and the ache in his ass grew a little less distant. He'd be sore, he thought, for a while. The thought made him grin, and the grin made him laugh at himself. Such a ridiculous, besotted child.

But he was loved. So who cared about the rest?

"What do you think you're doing?"

He blinked, turning to the bedroom door and smiling, helpless not to smile, when he saw Len standing there looking in.

Len moved in, studying Pavel, a smile on his own face but smaller than Pavel felt it should have been.

"I was just getting up," he said after a moment, his grin fading at the edges.

Len kept coming, right up to the bed and then on top of the mattress, crawling to Pavel and looking intently at his face, studying. "Oh no you're not. Not yet, anyway. I got breakfast coming."

Pavel's smile returned. He longed to lean in the few inches between them and kiss Len good morning, but he resisted for the moment.

"Breakfast in bed?" he asked, amused.

"Birthday tradition." Len grinned, sitting back on his legs. "At least it seems like a good tradition to start."

"I'm not arguing." Pavel sat back, shifting a little to try to soothe the throbbing ache in his ass.

"Talk to me, kid." Len hadn't stopped studying him for a moment.

Pavel knew what he meant at once. He blushed and grinned at his lap. "Did I really pass out?"

Len's chuckle was tentative, but warm. "Hard."

"And now you want me to talk about it?" Pavel grinned so wide his eyes squinted.

Len reached out, laying fingertips under Pavel's chin and tilting his head up. "Yep."

"I don't think I could find the words in English." Pavel met his eyes, feeling silly and young. "I have range of experience..." He shook his head, helpless. "Is it always like that? Whatever it was like for you, did that...was it normal?"

Len's smile took on the slightest self-conscious tilt, as if he hadn't expected the talk to fall back to him.

"I told myself a long time ago not to expect anything normal when you're involved, Pasha. I have a pretty big range of experience, but..." He shrugged. "No. That wasn't normal. Maybe...maybe it'll become normal?"

Pavel smiled. "I was going to lie and tell you that in Russia we celebrate birthdays at least once a week. Maybe twice if we have the day off work."

Len grinned. A moment later it became a laugh, rasping and loud. "I'm pretty gullible, tell me that later on and I'm sure I'll believe it. And we can make plans accordingly." He glanced behind him suddenly. "I should grab breakfast while it's hot. You stay here?"

Pavel nodded, but grabbed Len's arm before he could leave. "Thank you."

Len turned back, grinning. "For what?"

Pavel just looked at him until Len chuckled. "No, not just for that, though. For everything."

"Believe me when I say – it's my pleasure." Len reached up and lay his hand on Pavel's outstretched arm, squeezing lightly. "Love you, kid. So damned much."

Pavel's throat felt scratchy when he answered. "Love you, too. More than anything."

Len didn't hesitate, closing the space between them and sealing them together in a light, long kiss.

"Happy birthday, Pasha," he murmured against Pavel's mouth before kissing him again.

Pavel curled his arms around Len's neck, happy, and had the surprising, thrilling revelation that this really wasn't just his birthday present.

This was his life now.

He slipped his fingers through Len's hair, down the back of his neck, over those broad shoulders. His. Len was his. There was nothing off limits anymore, nothing he couldn't try, nowhere he couldn't touch. This was the beginning. The differences he already felt, the change in the connection between his mind and body, was just the start of something.

All the learning he wanted to do, all the experimenting with Len and his body and his reactions, all the things he had yet to learn about himself and his own body...he was starting it. This was day one, and nothing was going to stop day two and day five hundred from following.

He grinned against Len's mouth.

Happy birthday, indeed.