Sam quietly got ready for dinner, his nerves twitching and his hormones racing. One moment he was euphoric followed rapidly by the depressing thought that Seth couldn't possibly want him. He knew that he was being silly but this was too important. Seth was too important to subject to his indecision.
He looked at his clothes as if he'd never seen them before. He shoved the hangers from one side to the other, wondering why he had so many clothes that were so plain. Spying his favorite tweed jacket, he pulled it out and hung it on the doorknob. It made him look older and he desperately wanted to at least appear the mature 33 he was instead of the half-scared kid he felt like right now.
Pulling out a pair of navy blue dress pants and an blue Oxford shirt that would look good with the jacket, he stripped and redressed quickly. Am I so lacking in confidence that I need to be dominated by someone older and wiser? Looking at himself in the mirror on the back of his bedroom door, he remembered what it had felt like to be a playful Xenos relaxing a careworn Sarpedon.
They'd both been warriors but domination hadn't been what kept them together. They had loved and needed each other to balance their lives. He smiled at himself and shook his head. He'd always needed to be needed. Could Seth be tender now the way he'd been in Kosovo? Sam took a deep breath and let it out.
Yes, he could and already had.
Brushing his hair one more time, he picked up his black leather coat and headed downstairs. He ducked out the front door after listening to the conversation in the kitchen. While they were busy, he could leave without having to answer any questions. This was all so new that he wanted to cherish it to himself like a secret too precious to share.
Slipping his coat on, he made it out to the front sidewalk without incident. Walking slowly up and down the walk, he stuck his cold hands in his pockets and tried not to think. He was not going to think this to death. He was going to relax and let events happen. Whatever occurred, he would accept it and enjoy the journey.
The dark green Ford Taurus pulled up and he slid in the passenger side, his eyes finding Seth's smiling face. Hands reached to touch for a moment and the fluttery feeling in the pit of his stomach quieted at the warm handclasp.
"Everything all right, Sam?"
"Everything is just fine. Where are we going to eat?"
"I don't know the area, Sam. So, you tell me your favorite restaurant." Seth put the car in gear and pulled away from the curb.
Sam thought a moment. "The Bijou, I think. I know the Resters and their chili cheese fries are known throughout the county. It's out on Highway 5 just past the bait shop."
Seth nodded. "I've passed it a couple of times on my way to the Base. Do they have a Fifties look?"
Sam nodded happily and told him about the family who ran it, starting with the husband and wife then continuing on to the rest of the family of six kids. The Hamiltons had been their doctors for two generations and soon to be a third. The patriarch of the family was in remission from colon cancer and doing well.
Pulling into the lot beside the restaurant, they parked and went in. Natalie Rester took one look at Sam and hugged him tightly. "Bad Doctor Sam! It's been two months since you came by to let us feed you. You're wasting away to skin and bone. But who is this lovely man you've brought with you?"
"Natalie Rester, this is Colonel Seth Griffin. He's the new commander of our Marine contingent at the base. I told him that you had the best chili-cheese fries in the state."
Seth shook her hand and flashed her that sexy grin to which Sam always had such a strong reaction. But he controlled it and stayed smiling through the process of being seated and ordering dinner. When had he gotten so possessive? Seth gave him an appreciative look under the cover of opening menus.
"You look very professorial, Sam." He dropped his voice. "And good enough to eat."
Sam couldn't control his blush, drawing circles on his place mat. But when his eyes came up and met Seth's, he saw only affection and maybe a little bit of lust. "Thanks. I'm not too sure how to go about this, Seth. I don't know the rules for going out with a ... a man."
"No rules, Sam. We're just two friends out for dinner and some pleasant conversation." Seth's eyes dropped. "I was out of line."
"No," Sam protested quietly and raised his hand to point out something on Seth's menu, dropping at the last moment and briefly touching his hand. "I like knowing that you think I look nice. But I just have this urge to touch you and keep on touching you. And that would shock most of the people in this room right into apoplexy."
Seth chuckled. "That's indeed one of the drawbacks to our loving." His eyes swept the room, taking in the prosperous crowd. "Will it be too much for you? This is a pretty tight community and you are a highly visible part of it. I can't tell you how many times the 'Hamilton family' has been mentioned to me in the course of the last month or so."
Sam shrugged. "Dad is really well known and Mom isn't far behind. I think everybody is afraid of Grandmother Penelope. And Peter is Grandpa's clone with his flying."
"And Sam is that nice young doctor who should be settling down with a nice girl -- like my niece, daughter, granddaughter -- you fill in the relationship." Seth teased.
"Well, I haven't killed anyone yet so I guess that qualifies me as a nice guy."
Natalie placed their appetizers on the table in front of them and shook her finger in Sam's face. "Nonsense, young man. You're a caring doctor with a sixth sense when it comes to diagnosing your patients." Her eyes filled with tears and she sniffed hard. "If you hadn't made my Davy have that test, I would be burying him right now. Colonel, don't you listen to him. He's the best doctor in the county. He's even better than his father, Doctor Ed."
"I believe you, Mrs. Rester. Sam is too modest about his abilities and successes. He did a great job in Kosovo, where I first met him." Seth said gently while Sam blushed all the way to the tips of his ears.
"You see, Doctor Sam, everyone knows how good you are. But now, you two eat up. Davy is cooking your dinner so you've got about fifteen minutes to finish this appetizer." And she bustled off to another table.
Sam was still blushing but Seth tactfully ignored that and speared one of the fries. They spent the next few moments eating and Sam perked up when he saw how much Seth seemed to be enjoying the steaming chili and cheese. They were almost done when a voice from behind Sam's shoulder broke the silence.
"Why, Sam, it's good to see you out and about." The shrill voice brought Sam to his feet automatically and Seth rose with him to be introduced to Eleanor. Her eyes widened when she took in the handsome Colonel.
"Eleanor, this is Colonel Griffin, newly assigned to the Guard base. Colonel, this is Eleanor Wenton, an old friend of mine." He performed the introductions and nodded to the glowering blond man behind her. "Hi, Ted. It's good to see you back."
Back and dating Eleanor. Sooner you than me, you little twit. You and Eleanor deserve each other. Pasting on a smile, he endured the interruption throughout the decades-few minutes until they left. His jaws ached by the time they finally left. When they finally sat back down, he rolled his eyes in relief.
"Old girlfriend?" Seth chuckled.
"I stood her up the night I found Ruth and I realized that it was more of a relief than anything else." Sam tried to grin. "I've been so confused since Kosovo."
A warm hand found his knee for a fleeting touch and he felt himself relax immediately. "I went through that in my 20's and I came to the same conclusion you did. But, it was the seventies and I didn't have much trouble finding some like-minded souls. Even in the military."
Now it was Seth's turn to draw circles on his place mat. "I experimented as all young men do but I didn't ever find someone to give my heart to. An old friend served as lover whenever we could get together, until he found someone permanent. Since then, I've been celibate." Catching the question in Sam's eyes, he grinned. "8 years, Sam. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. The world's been a busy place the last few years and I kept my attention on my work. And I nurtured the relationships with friends that stuck with me."
Sam took a drink of water and tried to process what he'd heard. While he was thinking, Natalie bustled up with their dinners and a tart comment about making sure they ate everything or be able to tell her why.
After the first few bites, Sam looked up to find Seth's gaze on him. "I never experimented that way. During medical school, I dated a fellow student and I thought she was the one. I took me two years to realize that she'd never settle for being a family doctor or the wife of one. She took off for a neurologic residency in Manhattan and for a while I tried to convince myself that my heart had been broken."
"But it mended?" Seth asked gently.
Sam chuckled around a bite of his spinach omelet. "It was just dented a little. I tried, I really did but when I turned 28 and finished my residency, I came back to practice here at home. I just ... set that part of my life aside. Dated occasionally and worked hard to replace that empty space inside." He swallowed hard. "And then you came."
Seth's hand reached for his under the cover of the tablecloth. "After dinner I need to swing by the base and pick up some paperwork so I don't get too behind. You could come in with me for a moment?"
Returning the squeeze of his hand, Sam smiled and nodded. "I'd like that."
The rest of the meal was spent exploring their separate pasts and introducing Seth to the people who came by to talk to Sam. Part of his mind was trying to guess how many of them would back away in horror when they found out that he and Seth were together. But most of his thoughts were just centered on Seth.
He watched the way his dark hair curled just above his forehead; how green his eyes looked in the dimmer light of the restaurant; the infectious laugh and the tender smile when he gazed at Sam; the breadth of his shoulders and the easy way his muscles moved beneath the soft cotton-knit green sweater.
It was all new and yet ... familiar.
Davy came out to meet Seth and shake their hands before they finished. Sam was blushing again by the time they left, unused to the fulsome compliments from everyone. When they were on their way to the Base, he could feel the excitement bubble up inside of him. Soon he'd be able to hold Seth again.
The gate guard snapped a salute before letting them through and closing the gate behind them. Driving to the front of the headquarters building, Seth parked and they went down the long hall to the corner office. Unlocking the door, Seth led the way inside. Flicking on the light, they only paused a moment before moving into the small conference room adjacent to Seth's office. This office had no windows and in the dim light, Seth drew him into his arms for a rib-squeezing hug.
Sam returned it with interest. It was just so very different than hugging a woman. You had to be careful with them not to press too hard. But with Seth, he could hold on as tight as he liked while the soft lips mapped his face slowly as if memorizing each feature. It all felt so good that he never wanted it to end. But then those lips were on his and an agile tongue was licking at his mouth as if asking for entry. So he parted his lips and was immediately addicted to Seth's taste.
Part chili and part banana crème pie, Sam savored the curious blend of spices. He wanted years to become used to all the combinations that might come. Seth's tongue counted his teeth and rubbed briefly over the roof of his mouth, making Sam shiver with a sudden need for . . . more.
"You taste wonderful." Seth murmured while slowly mouthing down Sam's jaw to the soft skin beneath his chin.
Sam wondered breathlessly why no one had ever told him that was an erogenous zone. "I could ... oh ... say the same."
"Damn, I'd really like to stay here for an hour or so but we don't dare." He pulled back enough to see the clock over the door. "The guard should be making a round just about now. Rain check, Sam?"
"As many as you need, Seth." Sam ran gentle fingers over the lips that had just given him so much pleasure and sighed dreamily. "In fact, I believe you have them all, rain or shine."
A quick hard kiss was his answer and the pressing of groin to groin told him that they were both affected by the intimacy. Then Seth released him and took a deep breath, then another before walking out to his desk and staring blindly down at the files on it. Sam wasn't in much better shape and he moved to the door, picking up a copy of the paper that someone had left and pretending to read the sports page.
"This is going to be harder than I thought." Seth muttered while flipping through one of the folders. "You are a walking, breathing wet dream, Sam. I can see a lot of distraction in my future.
Sam blushed and opened his mouth to reply but heard the guard's steps and shook his head instead. Taking a quick look at the hockey scores, he started to read them to Seth. "Hey, it looks like the Stars are going to lead their division again this year. They beat Detroit 5 -- 3 last night."
"Hi, Captain Hamilton. I saw that game on ESPN and it was awesome. Eddie Balfour really made them work for it." The young airman checked the office from the doorway. "Everything all right, Colonel Griffin?"
"Just fine, Airman Green. I'm glad to see you so alert. We'll be out of your way in a few moments." Seth smiled at him genially and the young man nodded before continuing on his rounds.
Sam met Seth's gaze and one of them sighed. Then he made a concerted effort to concentrate and Sam leaned against the doorjamb and looked his fill. Idly, he wondered if he'd ever get to the point when he'd cease to find something new to watch about the strong man across the room. Broad shoulders, the square face with the dimple in his chin and those amazing green eyes that were even now twinkling at him . . . nope, he didn't think he would.
"I'd better get you home so we can be up bright and early for our expedition. As much as I'd like to take you to my place and ravish you, I think we'd better not." The note of regret in his voice soothed Sam and let him nod a regretful acquiescence.
As much as he wanted to explore what Seth meant by ravishing, he also needed to come to terms with the desires that were flowing through him. Seth's presence was warm at his shoulder and when they got into the car, he sat back to look his fill again.
"A penny for your thoughts, Sam." Seth cast him a quick look after acknowledging the gate guard's good night.
"Just wondering when I'll get used to seeing your face ... or wanting to taste you and hold you. If the need to touch you or see you smile will ever get to be routine."
"I hope not. I plan on keeping you satiated with long bouts of lovemaking in between our duties." Seth's matter of fact tone of voice while saying the most outrageous things made Sam laugh. When they pulled up by the Hamiltons house, Seth cast a quick look around before leaning over to tenderly kiss Sam.
But Sam was already leaning towards him. "That's four, Seth. I'm going to keep track of them until there's too many to count."
"Then I'll do my best to make sure that you lose count quickly." Seth's voice was hoarse and his hand on Sam's cheek warmed him through.
"Good night, Seth. I'm glad we finally met." Sam didn't want to go in but the neighbors would be wondering why the car didn't back out.
"I am too, Sam. You were definitely worth waiting for." Seth's teeth flashed in the wide smile that Sam loved. "Good night and sweet dreams."
Sam got out slowly, not wanting the evening to end. But after waving good-bye to Seth, he made his way to the back door and in, still floating on the feelings of love and belonging that he'd felt from Seth. Tomorrow was looking better and better.
End of missing scene 1