Birthday Fish—A Brief Ficlet from Fish Out of Water
By Amy Lane
Jackson frowned at the mail on the table. His was still being sent to his duplex, and he was starting to wonder when he should fix that.
If. If he should fix that.
If he should fix that by moving out, right?
“Mother sent you a birthday card,” Ellery said, handing a mauve envelope to Jackson as he walked by.
Jackson reached out with his weak arm, determined to rehabilitate his recently repaired shoulder. Twinge! He hissed in a breath and Ellery glared at him. A few months before, Jackson would have said that look in his eyes was cold disapproval, but now he knew better.
That particular look was hot irritation.
“A week, Jackson. Give it a week.”
“Your mother sent me a card?” he asked, not taking the bait. Yeah, sure, Ellery wanted him to take it easy. Ellery wanted him to move in too—but Jackson was… well, it would be easy. He’d love to move in. Ellery’s house was wonderful, Jackson’s cat loved it here, and Jackson didn’t mind either—but he didn’t want to impose.
Didn’t want to get too comfy.
Who knew when he’d drop the last straw of irritation on Ellery’s back and Ellery would ask him to leave?
Yeah, just as well Jackson’s duplex would be repaired in a month or two, right?
“Did you hear me about the shoulder?”
Jackson glared back. “Why is your Lucy Satan sending me birthday cards? How did she even know it was my birthday?”
“I don’t know—did you tell her?”
Jackson frowned. “Did you know it was my birthday?” He couldn’t remember ever discussing it with Ellery. They’d worked at the same law firm for years–Ellery as a defense attorney and Jackson as a P.I.–before they’d bonded over a case defending Jackson’s best friend.
They’d just been getting used to the idea of being lovers when Jackson had gotten shot and his house destroyed.
“No, I didn’t know it was your birthday,” Ellery said, annoyed. “My mother had to tell me. If you can avoid wrecking the car or bleeding between now and when I get home tomorrow night, I was going to take you out.”
Jackson blinked. “Why?”
“For your birthday, asshole! Oh my God—I know Jade and Kaden had to celebrate your birthday—they seem like perfectly normal people and somebody had to have baked you a cake at some point, Jackson. Why are you being dense?”
Yes, their mother had made him birthday cakes after she’d taken him under her wing. Yes, Jade and Kaden remembered his birthday—he was expecting a phone call and probably a gift certificate from both of them sometime that day. He returned the favor for them, and for Kaden’s wife Rhonda, and their kids River and Diamond.
But he’d never had a lover, male or female, (with the exception of Jade, but she mostly didn’t count that way) make him a birthday celebration.
As promiscuous as he’d been before Ellery, he’d usually made it a point to sleep alone on his birthday.
“I don’t… It’s not a thing,” he said with dignity. Then, almost accusingly, “When’s your birthday? For all I know it happened already and you’re just waiting to hold it over me that I didn’t know when your birthday is!”
Ellery blinked at him, mouth gaping open. Billy Bob jumped on the lovely oak kitchen table and curled up on the satin embroidered runner, and Ellery ignored him which was unheard of. He was clearly still in shock.
“I’ll be in the back yard,” Jackson muttered. “I’ve got some work to do.”
Ellery let him go, and Jackson took his lap top—and his birthday card. The back yard was well kept—thick grass, mown to a good length for a toddler to play on, and pruned jasmine around the wooden fence. Ellery’s backyard was the sort of place family movies were set—Jackson couldn’t stop spending time there, now that the weather was nice. He sat on the porch, under the overhang, kicking back on a lounge chair to work. He was in the middle of running down leads on Ellery’s latest case to see what he could dig up on the witnesses that seemed to be coming after Ellery’s guy for plain meanness, when he set the computer to run searches and opened the card.
“Cute,” he muttered. She’d sent him a kid’s birthday card, with a brightly colored lion and a cat counterpart, and a goofy little rhyme. It was the expensive kind, the kind that cost three dollars at the grocery store. He’d never gotten one of these, really. Jade and Kaden had made him cards—and he’d been thrilled beyond words to get them, because his own mother was usually too high to remember his birthday.
But this—this little kid’s birthday card, with the gift certificate to Baskin Robbins—this was…
Painful and thoughtful at once.
Ellery’s mother was a scary fucking woman.
He stared at the card, absurdly touched, and when Ellery came out to sit in the lounge chair next to him, he wasn’t sure enough of his own composure to look up. He patted Ellery’s hand on his shoulder when he squeezed, though.
“December 15th,” Ellery said quietly. “Sagittarius.”
“September 22nd,” Jackson said back. “Drunken high school Christmas orgy.”
“A Libra/Virgo,” Ellery told him. He’d heard that before—didn’t everybody want to know what their sign was? “We shouldn’t get along at all.”
Jackson let out a half-hearted bark of laughter. “We don’t.”
“We seem to be doing okay.”
Jackson thought about it. He’d been out of the hospital for almost a month and Ellery hadn’t irritated the fuck out of him yet—that was promising. Ellery seemed to tolerate him… care about him.
Ellery seemed to care about him.
“Your mother gave me ice cream for my birthday,” he said, the absurd emotional response not leaving him. “That was… I mean, I didn’t think Lucy Satan could be sweet.”
Ellery snorted. “Mother? She’s manipulative as fuck. If she gave you ice cream, she wanted you to know you’re her child. Fucking subtle, right?”
Jackson almost dropped the birthday card. “Why? Why would she do that? I tried to tell her, Ellery—I tried to tell her in the hospital room. I asked for money to leave you alone—remember that?”
“Yeah, Jackson—I remember telling you it wouldn’t work.” He sighed and leaned forward on his elbows, slapping at a mosquito. Seven O’clock—the sun was waning in the sky and the shadows were long. “Maybe she wants the same thing I do—she wants you to be permanent in my life.”
“Ice cream is going to do that?” He hated this feeling—Ellery’s entire life was different than his. His family was different. And Jackson, who had been taking care of himself since… since he was a baby was suddenly being very personally, very meticulously cared for.
All he’d done to deserve it—as far as he could see—was take advantage of Ellery Cramer’s fascination for him and be a human target.
“Ice cream makes everything better,” Ellery said with dignity. He sighed then and stood up, crouching in front of Jackson and gently shutting his computer. “C’mon, Jackson—what’s it gonna hurt if a couple more people celebrate your birthday?”
Ellery’s eyes were really exceptional. Big, almond shaped, deep nut brown—much like his hair. There were times when Jackson was just caught by them, fascinated like a cat with a laser pointer. “Ice cream?” And right there, his inner five year old, asking plaintively for his friend to go get ice cream with him. Like he was a real boy. He couldn’t’ decide whether to be humiliated or proud of himself.
“Sure,” Ellery whispered, reaching up to cup Jackson’s cheek. He rose slowly, capturing Jackson’s mouth with his own and very carefully moving the laptop to the table.
Jackson opened his mouth and allowed Ellery to sink into the kiss, sink into him. Their kisses always seemed to fit perfectly, and what started slowly, kindly, Ellery’s attempt to comfort him for something that should not have been a wound, quickly became passionate, needy, and urgent.
Jackson shoved is hands down the back of Ellery’s slacks, kneading his backside, wanting in his bony, stringy body, wanting that odd power he had over Jackson to keep working, to keep dragging Jackson into his little world of “normal”. Ellery took care of Jackson in “normal”. Mothers gave ice cream for your birthday in “normal”.
Jackson could provide for his lover, give him what he needed in “normal.”
“Bed,” Ellery groaned into his mouth. “Bed, now.”
“Bossy fucker,” Jackson mumbled, but Ellery kissed the objections right out of him. When Jackson came too Ellery was dragging him to the bedroom.
When they got there Ellery took everything off—button up shirt, slacks, T-shirt, underwear—and draped it gracefully over the chair in the corner. Jackson dropped his T-shirt and cargo shorts in the corner by the hamper and joined Ellery on the bed, suddenly needing more than normal. He needed Ellery.
“All those clothes,” Jackson muttered hoarsely between kisses. “All those clothes, and I just want you naked!” He moved down Ellery’s body—awkwardly, yes, because he hurt—and sucked on a tan nipple. Ellery gasped and wrapped his legs around Jackson’s hips, bucking against him.
“You,” Ellery gasped. “Inside me! Now!”
“Did I mention the bossy?” Jackson thought his cock looked like an ice cream cone—he wanted to lick it.
He did, from base to tip, teasing, mouthing, enjoying—no discomfort, no doubt existed, here in their bed. Jackson was an equal here—Jackson could dominate here, and Ellery, most of the time, just yielded, all of his planes and angles and his sharp, shrewd mind becoming soft and pliant, open to Jackson’s plunder.
“Please, Jackson,” Ellery begged, arching into his mouth. Jackson could stroke the blond, almost invisible hair on his calves and thighs forever, but he was too busy playing with Ellery’s testicles. And, oh yes, spit-slick, slippery, clenching for Jackson’s attention, his entrance. He wanted Jackson there—wanted him badly, and Jackson was hungry to be part of him.
“I love it when you beg,” Jackson admitted. “Beg me some more!”
Ellery fumbled over his head, finding the lubricant they kept under the pillow. “I’m begging you to put this in my asshole and nail me to the bed, dammit!”
Jackson laughed. “Counselor, I have no objection to that.” He fumbled with the bottle, just as Ellery wailed, “Aw, c’mon, Jackson, fuck me!”
Jackson breached him with two lubed fingers just to watch Ellery flail his hands and to feel him, broad and long, hitting the back of Jackson’s throat. Oops! He spurted a little there. Jackson was going to have to stop playing with his toy.
He sucked one more time, and pushed up, rolling off the bed. “Hands and knees,” he said gruffly. There were only so many positions he could manage with his injury, and Ellery, eschewing the romantic notion that they had to be gazing into each other’s eyes the whole time, preferred his hands and knees.
Except this time, he didn’t. This time he put his ass at the edge of the bed and grabbed his thighs.
Jackson stared at him, dismayed, and Ellery stared back. “C’mon,” he dared. “Take me.”
He wanted to be rough—but he couldn’t. He never had been. And Ellery, staring at him, begging him for his heart, for his body, for his commitment and his soul, knew it.
Jackson thrust inside slowly, waiting for Ellery to stretch for him. Ellery tilted his head back, enjoying their coupling unashamedly.
Jackson loved—liked—admired that about him.
He loved sex. He never minded wanting more. He was proud of the things their bodies did, excited that climax for the two of them was never soft, never easy—it was a rolling, thrashing struggle that ended with a torrent of brilliant release.
“Now!” he commanded, and Jackson felt freed. He thrust his hips hard, and fast, and again, the sound of their flesh slapping loud in the September twilight.
Ellery’s sounds changed, became frantic, and he begged, pleaded, “Please… please… yes… harder! Harder! God, thank you! Fuck me more! Right… right… right there!”
His climax ripped through him, without even a hand on his cock, and the wash of bliss on his face was almost as arousing as his grip on Jackson’s erection.
Jackson closed his eyes because he had to, and poured his heart, his soul, his come into his lover, his one lover, who would give enough of a damn to celebrate his birthday.
Ellery groaned and wrapped his legs around Jackson’s hips, while Jackson collapsed on his good arm and then rolled to the side, trying to catch his breath.
“That was,” pant, “unexpected.”
“Yeah, you’re telling me!” Ellery’s chuckle sounded like pure joy.
“Is this why you wanted to celebrate my birthday?” Jackson asked, feeling playful now instead of defensive.
“Sure. But what I really wanted was ice cream after dinner.”
Sure that’s what he wanted. Jackson laughed anyway and kissed him, glorying when Ellery opened up for him and let him in. Jackson couldn’t stop kissing him, his gift, his unexpected lover, someone who wanted him and didn’t hesitate to let him know that his life on the planet was a good thing.
“We can go for ice cream afterwards,” he promised, kissing Ellery’s neck. Ellery tilted his head back hedonistically and accepted Jackson’s nibbles.
“After what?” he panted. But he was already starting to harden again, and Jackson could take him one more time or five more times or again and again and again until their hearts burst.
“After I have what I really want for my birthday,” Jackson whispered, and Ellery laughed, because it was playful and pillow talk and fun.
But as they threw themselves slowly and wholeheartedly into round two, Jackson knew the truth.
This evening, making love in the evening, thinking about ice cream they’d have the next day after dinner—this was the best birthday he’d ever had.
PI Jackson Rivers grew up on the mean streets of Del Paso Heights—and he doesn’t trust cops, even though he was one. When the man he thinks of as his brother is accused of killing a police officer in an obviously doctored crime, Jackson will move heaven and earth to keep Kaden and his family safe.
Defense attorney Ellery Cramer grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but that hasn’t stopped him from crushing on street-smart, swaggering Jackson Rivers for the past six years. But when Jackson asks for his help defending Kaden Cameron, Ellery is out of his depth—and not just with guarded, prickly Jackson. Kaden wasn’t just framed, he was framed by crooked cops, and the conspiracy goes higher than Ellery dares reach—and deep into Jackson’s troubled past.
Both men are soon enmeshed in the mystery of who killed the cop in the minimart, and engaged in a race against time to clear Kaden’s name. But when the mystery is solved and the bullets stop flying, they’ll have to deal with their personal complications… and an attraction that’s spiraled out of control.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.