Drift Currents
by Artisan477 and Farad
Another piece in the Drifter AU. The first story is Drifter
Warning: for mildly rough sex and the tiniest hint of D/s.

Ahhh! That stung.

He really should know better than to stick his arm into a shuttle cavity without checking it first. But when Casey got that "do it now or we're all dead" tone in her voice, he'd learned to jump without hesitating.

Josiah sucked in a tight breath and dabbed again at the long gash down his forearm. Pretty ragged, should probably be stitched, but he'd be damned if he'd go wake Nathan at this hour.

A movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention and he looked up, surprised to find Vin Tanner lurking in the doorway. He'd forgotten the man was even on board. Not unusual, considering he'd been fully occupied with helping Casey handle the charge rigged into the shuttle, but he wasn't normally so careless. He looked back at his arm again and a rueful smile twisted the corner of his mouth. Yeah, well, he'd had plenty to keep him occupied.

Vin moved again and Josiah looked up once more. As their eyes met, Vin took a step forward into the room, his gaze shifting between Josiah's arm and his face.

"That'll need stitching." The certainty in Vin's voice showed he was no stranger to impromptu surgery.

"Yeah." Josiah threw the dirty swab into the bin by his feet. "Not going to happen tonight, though. Nathan's asleep and I'm left-handed." He waggled the fingers of his injured arm.

He was surprised when Vin took the final two steps, without any hesitation, right into his space. They'd only met the once, when Vin and Chris had been hauled off by the local enforcers after the bar fight, and he wasn't used to such casual ease from strangers.

Vin reached out to lift the injured arm. "If Nathan carries dermal glue, I could fix it for you." He inspected the gash closely, using his thumb and forefinger to test the depth, and Josiah was curious enough to let him. Vin's hands were warm and his fingers carried the calluses of an active life, but he seemed to be used to handling injuries because he cradled Josiah's arm gently.


Josiah waited till Vin lifted his eyes then he grinned, wide and full of teeth. "Well now, that's right neighborly of you, Vin."

He was rewarded with a genuine smile, one that transformed Vin's face and crinkled the corners of his eyes. Very blue eyes. For a second Josiah lost his train of thought.

"You happen to know where he keeps it?" Vin asked and Josiah blinked. "The dermal glue?" Vin elaborated, when the silence drew out.

"Ahh--" Josiah looked around giving himself a mental shake. It'd been a long while since he'd been so quickly distracted by a lithe body and a pretty smile. "Needs refrigeration; it'll be in the cool box." He nodded toward the far end of the medical room where the unit took up a good third of the wall.

Vin lowered Josiah's arm gently and went to get the glue. It took him a while to search through the various pots and tubes, and Josiah watched every move from under hooded lids.

"Try alphabetical," he eventually said. Nathan had spent years building up his personal stock of medicinal treatments and the collection was still growing. It helped that he was methodical to the point of compulsion.

"Got it." Vin brandished the tube and strolled back to where Josiah sat.

"You're up late." Josiah held his arm up obediently when Vin reached for it.

"Yeah," Vin said. "Josiah, right?"

"That's me." He watched as Vin carefully positioned his arm on a pillow then applied a local anaesthetic. "You look like you've done this before."

Vin met his eyes briefly, a smile playing around the edge of his mouth. "A time or two."

Josiah chuckled, respecting the discretion -- not so casual, or easy, then. It made him more comfortable, somehow. Most strangers didn't give out personal information, not if they had any sense.

He watched Vin work. The long, fine fingers were both careful and competent, Vin's full concentration devoted to working the glue into the gash and neatly sealing the edges inch by inch as he went.

When Vin was almost done, Josiah cleared his throat to get his attention. "That's a good job, Vin, you saved me some trouble for sure."

Vin just nodded as he finished up and used a last swab to wipe off the edges. When he was done, he stood back to admire his handiwork. "Ain't hard when you know how. Should hold, but you ought to get Nathan to look at it tomorrow."

Josiah did a little admiring himself, inspecting the wound from all angles, and Vin from just the one. He was wearing loose pants and a loose top and Josiah suddenly realised his feet were bare.

"You come down here for something for yourself?" he asked.

"Yeah," Vin conceded. "Wasn't expecting anyone to be here, though. Just wanted to see if Nathan had any more of the cream he gave me before."

"Well, you already found the cool box, that's the most likely spot for it. Not sure anyone but the Good Lord knows what he puts in those potions, though."

Vin chuckled. "Worked fine before. You think he'd mind if I help myself?"

"I think he'd mind if you didn't come get what you need," Josiah responded, rolling the sleeve of his shirt down to cover the new repair.

Vin accepted the advice with a tilt of his head, then headed back to the cool box. He poked around among the shelves, finally coming up with a small jar. "This looks like the one he used. You know anything about it?"

"Might do. Had reason to learn how to do for myself. What're you after?"

Vin gestured in a vague fashion at his chest, then seemed to realise Josiah had no idea what he meant. "Got some skin welts from the Andron suit. Hurt like hell, but Nathan's cream helped some -- took the pain right out."

"Show me." Josiah held out his hand and, when Vin handed over the pot, read the label.

"Manadra root. That'll take the sting out of most things." He handed the jar back. "You need a hand?"

"Wouldn't mind, can't quite reach my back on my own."

Vin turned around and dropped his hands to the hem of his shirt and lifted it up and over his head till it bunched around his wrists, where he let it rest. His back was covered by raised, angry-looking welts that striped his skin in an odd kind of pattern. They ran all the way from his shoulders, over his arms and disappeared below the waistband of the pants he wore.

Josiah let out a low whistle. "Can see why you had trouble sleeping. Lean against the table over there."

Vin rested his hands on the table as directed, shirt still hanging around his wrists, then held still while Josiah systematically applied the cream, starting at his left shoulder, where the welts seemed to be worst.

He took his time over Vin's right shoulder where a beautiful tattoo of an eagle decorated the skin. He knew a little about Drifters and their tendency toward body art, but this was one of the more spectacular examples he'd seen and he appreciated the symbolism. He traced the edges of the bird's wing reverently before forcing his mind back to the task at hand.

The tension left Vin's body bit by bit as Josiah worked his way down and slowly but surely covered all of the red, inflamed skin.

"Nathan has a reactive-blocker, you know?" He took his time over the most inflamed areas, careful not to break the skin. "It'd settle these down real quick."

Vin lifted one arm to give better access to his ribs. "This is fine; rather stay away from technology for a bit. Can't always know just what the side-effects might be."

"Fair enough." Josiah bent to better see the area over Vin's hip and a particularly large ridge that disappeared beneath the waistband of his pants. The welts were worse around that area, as though the suit had been tighter there, and Josiah eased the cloth away from the skin. "You mind if I shift this? Can't quite get at them all."

Vin shrugged, then used one hand to loosen the knot holding them up. They fell to a puddle at his feet, and Josiah hissed at the livid red of the newly-exposed flesh.

And the nicely-rounded, taut muscle.

Other parts of him reacted as well, something he hadn't felt in a while.

His fingers moved of their own volition, careful and light as they traced over the darkest red marks. For a few seconds, Vin tensed again, perhaps in pain, perhaps with the intimacy, it was hard to tell. Vin didn't give all that much away and Josiah hadn't yet learned to read him.

Josiah worked diligently, trying to keep his mind on the medicinal nature of his task, but it was difficult. The skin under his touch was warm and pliant, and Vin's ass was as close to perfect as he'd ever seen, on a woman or a man. Most distracting of all, though, was the discovery of a second tattoo, one as striking and detailed as the first one that marked his shoulder.

Inked into the indention on one side of his rump, the place where the muscle curved inward to join his hip, it looked to have been done by the same artist who had created the eagle, the detail and color as elaborate and rich. But this one was newer, if Josiah was any judge, the intricacy of the work showing the artist's growth and control over his talent.

It must have hurt like a bitch, Josiah thought, the indentation giving the image an almost three-dimensional effect. It was almost as if he could touch the creature itself.

"What is it?" he asked crouching down to get a better look.

"Wha-- Oh," Vin's voice was thick with the languor of endorphin release. "It's the face of a Salandrian panther." He smiled fondly, using the tip of one finger to stroke the pointed ear of the cat where it extended upward, curving over his hipbone. "It's a symbol of independent spirit. They can't be tamed."

Josiah nodded, remembering the stories he had heard. "I've heard of them, but never seen one. I thought no one had."

"They've been spotted in the wild. But no one's ever taken one alive. Legend has it they commit suicide when they're captured." He stroked at the ear tip again, as if the cat were real. "Gotta respect something that values its freedom that much."

Josiah looked up, not surprised to see the quirk of a smile on the thin lips, the distant gaze of someone lost in deep thoughts. Vin was a Drifter, after all, a man who had chosen a path of freedom over control, who lived every day with the ramifications of that choice. It was hard to imagine a more fitting talisman.

He continued working his way down the back of Vin's legs, appreciating the muscular definition even as he noticed that the welts on them were fainter. As if understanding his thoughts, Vin said, "I can handle it from here. Thanks."

He leaned down to gather his pants as Josiah pushed out of his crouch, and they almost collided. It was a near miss, managed only by their arms catching at each other. Josiah regained his balance first, but only because he was bigger and managed to brace his hip against the table, while Vin was restricted by the shirt still hanging around his forearms and wrists. He found himself holding Vin against him.

A very naked Vin.

"Sorry," Vin murmured against Josiah's chest, hands caught up between them. "I didn't mean to-- "

His words broke off as Josiah tightened his hold on Vin's waist, where he had caught him in the confusion of the moment. His hands were big and Vin was slender, his waist narrow enough that Josiah's thumbs almost met in the front.

Vin tilted his head back, looking up at Josiah. His eyes were sharper now, darker and larger this close. "You got a problem with Andarchic?" he asked quietly.

It seemed an odd question, out of the blue like that, and Josiah didn't quite know what to make of it. He couldn't think of anything he'd done to cause Vin to be defensive.

"Have some good friends who are. Know some Drifters pretty well, too." Josiah smiled as he spoke, keeping his voice mild as he ran one hand up Vin's rib cage. The way the skin pebbled under his touch was delightful.

Vin smiled a little. "How well you know 'em?"

It sounded casual, but Josiah didn't have to listen too hard to pick up the hint of suspicion. Tanner's unease must have roots -- maybe he was just naturally cautious, or maybe he'd had his fill of being the subject of someone's fascination. Josiah didn't normally avoid a question asked so directly, but his instinct told him that, in this instance, diversion would be safer.

"Think I'm more interested in how well I can get to know you." He pressed his groin a little more firmly against Vin.

The choice was a good one; Vin's smile grew a little more. "Reckon it depends on whether we're gonna stay here or head off somewhere a little more private."

"You in crew quarters?"

"Reckon," Vin answered. "Couple of deck beds."

Josiah grinned. "My room, then. One bed."

Vin grinned as well. He pushed back to lean down to gather his pants; Josiah got another good look at that perfect ass, and as Vin stood back up, drawing his pants up, Josiah got a look at the pretty cock that was rising for him as well.

He caught Vin's hand as he went to lift up his shirt. "Not far," Josiah said, liking the way Vin's nipples had hardened to points.

Vin grinned but left his shirt hanging loosely around one wrist. As he moved past, heading for the door, Josiah caught up the small jar with the manadra root -- it had other uses as well.

He hadn't lied; his room was just down the hall and off the corridor in the secondary crew's quarters. It took them seconds to get there, but it seemed like forever, his blood pulsing fast and hard through his veins.

Some part of his brain was still rational, though, and it was laughing at him. A boy, it said loudly, a pretty Drifter boy with a great ass and tatts and you're ready to nail him?

Josiah knew his own weaknesses, knew what the attraction was. A long time ago, he'd found a fascination for the close study of different races, had taken every opportunity to immerse himself and live as one with as many of the different cultures that populated their star system as he could. The Andarchic were one group he'd taken the chance to live with, to absorb their history, and research their efforts to adapt to a society in which they were functionally handicapped.

The Drifters had been a mystery then, one that many Andarchic had trouble accepting, and it wasn't hard to see why. The Andarchic were encouraged to conform, to not rock the boat or make too much trouble in the fear they'd end up even more controlled and isolated. Seemed that hadn't always been the way, and Josiah found the history of the Drifters -- those who'd broken away -- more and more intriguing the more he learned. By some they were almost revered, considered pure for their efforts to live outside the system and maintain a degree of independence. But for most of their genetic relatives, they represented a threat to their tenuous place in society -- by refusing to be a part of mainstream culture, the Drifters threatened everyone else and put what they considered freedom at risk. To many they were beneath contempt.

Since he'd moved on to other things, he'd still held his fascination with the Drifters and appreciated Chris's interest in Vin.

Vin's interest in him was unexpected, but Josiah wasn't one to look providence in the mouth. Especially when it had an ass as lovely as Vin did.

The lights came up automatically as he keyed the door open, and he stepped aside to let Vin precede him -- and to get another look at that ass. Even in the loose-fitting pants, it was round and inviting, and Josiah made certain to lock the door as soon as it was closed.

He found Vin standing near the end of the bed, looking around the walls. His eyes were wider now, with curiosity and a little awe, Josiah thought.

"You read all these books?" he asked as he stepped over to one of the bookshelves. He touched one, his fingers light on the binding, almost reverent.

Josiah smiled. "Pretty much. Most of them are available on download, of course, but there's something about a real book, real paper and print that holds the essence of the subject better. Especially the older ones."

"Thought you were a merc," Vin said, his voice distracted as he looked at the titles on the spines.

"That's how I live, more or less," Josiah agreed. "But it's not my passion."

Vin glanced at him quickly, the blue of his eyes a little darker now. "Learning's your passion?"

"You could say," Josiah answered. "More the study of customs and beliefs. There's no greater mystery than that which defines a man's soul."

"Mystery?" Vin echoed, but even as he spoke, he frowned and tugged at one of the books. Josiah didn't have to look to know which one it was: Desidera's The Andarchic Culture. It was one of the classics now; one of the first histories of what was then a newly emerging culture. Regardless of anything else, it was a beautiful volume; the cover decorated with traditional art and clan symbols.

Vin opened it with some care, but not as much as he'd been practicing till then. "This one of your mysteries?" There was a chill in his voice now, though, and Josiah's own heat, the one coursing through his body, wasn't ready to surrender to it yet.

"It's one of the first editions," he said, as if that were enough of an answer.

Vin looked up at him, not buying it. "Yeah, and the later versions don't get no more truthful."

Josiah shrugged, stepping close and taking the book from Vin's hands. "Few other things I'd rather study about the Andarchic right now," he said, setting the book back on the shelf. "If you're still willing."

Vin hesitated, but only for a second, before grinning. "I can show you a few things that are more true than what you'll read in that piece of garbage."

Josiah smiled down at him. "I think I'm going to like that research."

He caught Vin at the waist again, then leaned down. Vin's arms caught at Josiah's shoulders, and they kissed. It was completely sexual, Vin's mouth opening for Josiah's at the first pressure, their tongues duelling long enough for Vin to assert his own personality before surrendering. He sucked instead, drawing Josiah further into him.

When Josiah had to breathe, he pulled back with effort, having to use more strength than he'd expected to hold Vin at bay. Vin's eyes were almost black, his pupils dilated with desire, his lips swollen. He licked at them before saying, "You want to fuck me?"

The question was more abrupt than he'd expected, and for a second, he wondered if he'd misheard.

Vin frowned at the hesitancy. "Most of you boys with the right genes don't settle for nothing less."

Josiah straightened. "This isn't about what genes I do or don't have," he said quietly.

Vin chuckled, a low sound. "No, it's about me being Andarchic. Or a Drifter, I ain't sure which one yet. But I ain't upset about it." He shrugged. "Just want to get laid, and you seem willing -- just not the type who'd be interested in being on the bottom."

Josiah studied his companion, looking for a sign of annoyance or deception. Vin's gaze was level and direct, as open as it had been from the start.

"Vin, whatever you've dealt with before, you be clear, here and now. If we're going to do this, we're going to do it on equal terms. This is more about your pretty face and fine ass than it is about anything else." He reached out and ran a finger down Vin's cheek, and the way Vin melted into the touch made his dick jump in his pants.

"You got some strange ideas, Josiah, but if you're gonna fuck me, I ain't saying no."

Josiah turned his head, intending to press a kiss to the sensitive skin of Vin's elbow where it rested close to his face, but the first thing he saw were the long red welts running along the smooth skin. "What the-- "

He pushed Vin back and away but caught one hand and held it up. Vin's long sleeves had covered the damage before, but now he could see the wrist was almost raw, the skin broken, welts striating away in lines that thinned as they neared his elbow. There was another tattoo on the inside of Vin's forearm. Clan marking, Josiah recognised it straight away, all Andarans carried them, but the welts were dark and strong enough that it was difficult to make out the design.

"Manacles," he said, realizing why the damage was more severe here.

"Baultans don't leave much to chance," Vin said mildly. He tugged, trying to draw his hand free, but Josiah tightened his grip and looked around for the jar of manadra root that he had brought in.

"Come here," he said, pulling Vin along as he moved to where he'd placed it on the dresser.

"You ain't gotta do this," Vin said, his voice taking on an edge.

"I know I don't," Josiah caught up the jar and pulled off its seal. "But it'll be a lot easier for you to enjoy this if you're not in pain." He scooped out a dollop of the cream and moved to put it on Vin's arm.

"Oh, I don't know." Vin's voice had a new sound in it now, something low and husky and vibrating with sex. "Little pain can be a good thing."

Josiah looked up, catching the glint in Vin's eye. He was flirting, no doubt, but he -- wasn't.

Josiah smiled, understanding. "It can," he agreed, rubbing the cream along the worst of the damaged skin. "But just the right amount. And the right kind."

He kept his touch even and light, watching the play of emotion on Vin's agile features. He knew when he was working the worst of the wound on this wrist, Vin's lips thinning, his eyes crinkling at the corners, the muscle of his arm tightening as it flexed. But Vin never complained or resisted, not seriously; mostly, he relaxed into Josiah's touch, skin shivering beautifully at every stroke, the response peaking when Josiah touched thumb to forefinger around the bones of Vin's wrist and squeezed. It was one of the most arousing things Josiah had seen for a long while.

Nor did Vin refuse when Josiah released that arm and reached for the other, repeating the process.

When he finished, he looked at Vin, holding his gaze, more certain now of where they were headed, and asked: "You want to play, Vin?"

Vin dropped his eyes, and his body language changed -- subtly he put himself into Josiah's hands, the acquiescence unmistakable. He nodded.


Vin blinked, then did as he was told, the thin pants falling easily to the floor. He still bore the welts, the manadra root good for the pain but not helping with the healing.

Josiah again caught one of Vin's hands, but this time, he drew it toward his lips. He held Vin's eyes as he kissed the abraded skin of his forearm, watching them widen as he used the tip of his tongue to trace downward, over the worst of the injury. The manadra root was bitter, but not enough to deter him from the greater intent of his action.

Vin's breath caught as Josiah licked along the red and torn area, and it had to be pain. But the flicker was in his eyes again, the flicker of want and need, and Josiah saw the shiver that shook him.

"Like that?" he murmured as he traded one wrist for the other.

Vin swallowed as Josiah kissed his other inner forearm, eyes following Josiah's mouth. Josiah felt the tremors this time, saw the fire catch in Vin's gaze as Josiah tongued him harder, tasting a little blood with the manadra root.

"This's not about doing anything you don't like, Vin," he said, wanting to be sure they were both on the same page. "You want to stop, you say straight out."

Vin nodded once and pressed against him, and he felt the outline of a hard cock against his hip. He hadn't needed more proof of Vin's willingness, but it was good to have.

He tongued deeper, then let the rough edges of his teeth graze over the injured flesh -- not biting, not cutting or tearing, but scraping just a little. Vin made a noise low in his throat, sort of a moan and sort of something else. His hips ground against Josiah, forcing more contact.

Boy likes pain, Josiah thought, and usually that meant he liked to be told what to do.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that this was actually what had called him to Vin, this strange bent that they shared, his love of controlling and Vin's want of it. The fact that Vin was a Drifter was just the icing on the cake.

As Vin shuddered once more, Josiah caught him by the hair at the back of his neck and pulled -- not too hard, but hard enough. "On the bed," he growled, "on your knees."

Vin made that noise again, and his eyes were black now, the pupils dilated completely. Josiah smiled as he pushed Vin toward the bed.

He reached to take off his shirt then decided not to. It was an element of control, to be dressed while his submissive was completely naked. But he did take off his boots, fumbling the releases on them as he watched Vin position himself on the bed, his knees spread wide, head down. Submission meant different things to different cultures but there was no mistaking this. Vin was perfect in the way he gave it up. In the way he, with no more than a movement or two, asked Josiah to take control.

Opening his pants around his own aching erection was difficult, as was keeping control as he looked at that perfect ass just waiting for him, wanting him.

He started forward then stopped, going back to catch the manadra root jar. They'd need something, as Josiah knew his own size was more than most men could take easily. He walked to the head of the bed, appreciating the view he had of Vin as he walked past him.

Vin watched him, his face flushed, his breathing fast. He watched as Josiah fisted his cock loosely. "You taken a man recently?" Josiah asked.

Vin was watching his hand, licking at his lips as Josiah hardened and lengthened. "Yeah," he said, but the word was a little unclear. He worked harder as he added, "Ain't had one big as you, though, not in a long damned time."

Josiah smiled, liking the way Vin was watching him. He put one knee on the bed, his groin close to Vin's head, then he reached out and caught Vin once more by the hair on the back of his neck. For a minute he stroked with his thumb, running it down the tender skin behind Vin's ear and around the back of his neck, his own cock jumping when Vin's eyes glazed over and his lids flickered shut. He tightened his grip in Vin's hair.

"Suck me," he ordered, "and make it good, boy."

Vin's lids shot up but there was no rebellion in his eyes, just a flare of approval. He let himself be drawn into place, not resisting the hand on the back of his head or the tugging at his hair, and his mouth opened automatically as Josiah guided his cock toward it.

He was a natural, Josiah thought in the brief instances when he could think. Vin was practiced enough to know how much he could take without choking, and how fast he could take it. He knew how to use his tongue to add stimulation, and where to put his hands on Josiah's balls and inner thighs. It took too little time for the heat to build in Josiah to the point of release, his own fingers tight on the base of his erection to stop the pending climax.

He jerked on the hair he was holding, pulling Vin back and off with a violence that he didn't intend.

"Too good," he said, his voice grinding, "gonna end this too soon."

Vin stared up at him through a curtain of his hair, his lips swollen and wet, a thin trail of saliva showing at the corner of his mouth. He licked at it with the tip of his tongue, then swiped the back of his hand across his mouth before saying, "Want you inside me."

Josiah studied him for a second then said, "You think that's what I want?"

Vin arched an eyebrow, as if he might challenge, and Josiah grinned. Before Vin could say anything, he pulled on the hair he was still holding, twisting Vin down and onto his back. With his free hand, he caught one brown, pointed nipple and twisted it -- not hard, but enough to hurt.

Vin cried out and his hands came up, catching at Josiah's arm. But his ass bounced on the bed and his hard cock slapped against his belly, the sound wet as a clear thread of fluid dripped from the head.

"You like it a little rough, huh," Josiah said, leaning down to whisper in Vin's ear. "That's good, 'cause I like it a little rough, too." He let go of the nipple with another tug, then reached lower to catch Vin's inner thigh. "Changed my mind," he said, pulling so that Vin slid across the bed, his legs coming around.

The move was fast and hard, Josiah confident in his strength and ability to handle Vin's smaller body. Too fast, in some ways; the bedcover was a rough weave of fiber that would burn against Vin's back, especially against the welts.

Vin's breath caught, and he writhed a little, struggling against the pull. But Josiah had him in place, ass at the edge of the bed, legs splayed on either side of Josiah's thighs.

Vin stared up at Josiah, a little confused, a little anxious, but his cock still hard and leaking.

"Gonna bend you in half," Josiah announced, catching the back of Vin's legs in each of his big hands. He pushed, forcing Vin's long legs back and apart, and in the process, causing his back to curve so that that pretty ass came up and open.

"Oh, yes," Josiah breathed, liking what he saw.

"Can I--- " Vin started then stopped. Something in his voice caught Josiah's attention and he tore his gaze away from where he wanted to be and saw Vin struggling to reach one of the pillows at the head of the bed.

"What?" he asked sharply.

Vin looked back at him, desire warring with something else in his sharp features. "I -- my back -- I need -- "

"Get it, but be quick," Josiah ordered, understanding; Vin needed a pillow under his hips to keep his back from hurting later.

Vin knew what he was doing, folding the pillow in half easily and shoving it beneath the small of his back, helped by Josiah's grip on his legs. He looked up, nodding when he was ready. "Come on, then," he said, his voice low and needy. "Take me if you can."

It was a provocation, just on the edge of insolence -- enough to push Josiah past any doubt.

The manadra root jar was close, and he caught it with one hand. The leg he released to do so came forward slowly, the ankle coming up to hook over Josiah's hip.

Josiah scooped out the cream, applying it to himself quickly before dropping his hand to the soft skin just behind Vin's balls.

His fingers found their way to the small entrance to Vin's body, stroking over its smoothness. His intent was to spread more of the cream there, to aid with his penetration, but Vin's body clutched at him, the ring opening to catch at the tips of his fingers, drawing them in.

Tight and hot and clutching at Josiah's fingers as if to pull them deeper. "Little slut, aren't you," Josiah said, but there was no censure in it. None at all.

"You gonna fuck me or talk about it?"

Josiah pulled his fingers out, pushing the head of his cock firmly into place. The opening was small, the ring pulsing to Vin's heartbeat, the vibrations tingling along Josiah's slit. It was an odd sensation, one just on the border of pleasure -- and discomfort.

Before he could decide, Vin moved, canting his hips slightly and pulling against Josiah. The move forced penetration, and before Josiah could do anything, he was inside.

Tight, definitely, almost too much so. It was good, though, as it kept him from coming too soon.

Beneath him, Vin moaned, and Josiah managed to get his eyes open to look down. Vin was a sight, his head thrown back, long brown hair spread over the ivory bedcover. His nipples were peaked and a shimmer of sweat caught in the soft light of the room. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes, breathing deep and staring up at Josiah.

"Am I gonna have to do all the work?" Vin growled, and his body flexed as if to force his hips up.

Josiah moved instead, driving his hips forward, thrusting deeper. The pressure was sharper now, the pleasure growing but also the discomfort. He had to stop before he wanted to, but not, perhaps, before Vin wanted him to. Vin was breathing hard, his back bowed so that his chest was up. Josiah didn't have to lean down far to catch the tip of one pointed nipple between his teeth.

He didn't bite hard, more interested in holding the flesh between his teeth so he could flick it with his tongue. The effect under him, though, was electric. Vin cried out, louder this time, and his whole body seemed to lift, his legs crossing at the small of Josiah's back so that he pulled himself higher up -- and impaled himself more.

Josiah stumbled, catching himself against the bed with his hands on either side of Vin. But the new position, their bodies closer together, his dick deeper inside Vin, broke his control. He couldn't stop himself now, thrusting deep and hard and with everything he had.

Vin took him well, his legs holding solidly around Josiah's waist. He made noises -- most encouraging, but every now and then a sound would stutter, as if it hurt. But if it did, it hurt just enough, because he never pushed away, never tried to slow Josiah down. After a while, his moans became indistinct, turning into one long, low keen that grew in volume and intensity.

Josiah was balancing them both on his hands, Vin clinging to him, his arms around Josiah's neck. It occurred to Josiah later just how much Vin did like to get fucked because neither of them had any opportunity to touch his dick -- in fact, Josiah hadn't touched it at all.

The only warning Josiah had was the sudden silence as Vin's keening stopped, a mere second before Vin's body locked in release. He felt the splatter of Vin's ejaculate against his belly, but that was faint; his concentration was on the convulsions that rolled over his cock in waves too intense to separate. It was as if he were being pulled deeper and deeper, the contractions pulling his own pleasure from him.

It'd been a long time since he'd had an orgasm last so long, so long that he lost track of time. When he came back to himself, exhausted and sated, he was still buried in Vin, who was weakly pushing at him.

He levered himself back up, watching Vin gasp. He was still pretty, even now - especially now, Josiah thought. Sweaty, his hair wild and tangled, lips swollen, face flushed. His eyes were heavy-lidded, his body sated. He groaned a little as Josiah rolled to the side, and pulled himself free, a soft, needy sound that Josiah understood. What they'd done had been intense; he wasn't surprised that Vin wasn't quite ready to let go. He tugged Vin half onto his chest and pushed two fingers inside him, mouth curving into a smile at the small, satisfied sound Vin made and the way his muscles rippled around him.

For long minutes they just lay there, then Vin made a movement to push up and away and Josiah let his fingers slip free. Vin didn't go far, though; just rested up on one elbow, head on his hand.

"Seems like you've done this before," he said, a satisfied grin playing around his mouth, voice still a little breathless.

Josiah barked out a laugh. "A time or two," he agreed, giving Vin's words back to him in a mirror of their earlier conversation. "When I think someone wants it."

He ran a hand down Vin's arm then got up off the bed and headed into his small bathroom, cleaning up and putting himself back together. Vin was lying boneless on the bed when he came back out.

He grinned, finding that he liked the idea of this man sprawled on his bed. The idea of this man in his bed.

Josiah moved closer, cloth in hand. Vin startled at the first touch, his eyes opening instantly and his body tensing, but Josiah was wiping at his belly, not yet moving on to the more intimate areas.

Vin smiled up at him, relaxing once he realized what was going on. "Can wash up," he said, but he didn't make a move to stop Josiah, not even when he drifted lower with the cloth.

"Don't mind, seems like the right thing to do." Josiah was gentle as he wiped between Vin's thighs and lower.

"You got a thing for Drifters?" Vin's words were slow, but it was close enough to his earlier question that he must have been thinking about it.

Josiah kept his attention on what he was doing as he answered. "Known a few Andarchic in my day. Fewer Drifters -- but then, your people don't exactly make it easy."

Vin grinned. "Seems it'd be counterproductive to open ourselves to scrutiny. We ain't exactly welcome in your circles -- and even less welcome among our own kind."

Josiah finished up what he was doing, taking his time. He loved the way Vin's body moved with him, responsive even in the aftermath of release. Sensitive, he thought, relishing any touch.

He threw the cloth toward the bathroom then settled on the bed, stretching out beside the smaller man and pulling him up so that he could stretch his legs. "Why'd you become a Drifter?"

Vin yawned. "Weren't a matter of becoming, Josiah. My ma decided before I was even born not to have me registered. Even back then she knew of the Drifters, searched 'em out, made sure I was born there."

"In Andaran culture, birth clan's as important as genetic clan," Josiah mused out loud, joining the dots.

"More," Vin affirmed. "Being a Drifter's everything."

Without thinking, Josiah reached out, catching Vin's hand and clasping it lightly. "Rough life to live," he said quietly, his thumb rubbing over the back of Vin's hand.

Vin shrugged insofar as he could in this position. "Ain't no rougher than being stared at, being told what I can and can't do, having to rely on someone else's good grace to do even the most simple thing. Wears a soul down to live that way."

Josiah nodded, understanding in his own way.

Before he could speak, Vin went on, "Seems like being a Drifter ain't much different from what you do, hiring out to whomever, floating around the universe this way." He looked around the room, then grinned. "Got your own home, 'bout as much stuff as a body could want."

Josiah chuckled. "Yeah, reckon that's so." He had a lot, he knew, much of it coming into his hands since he'd joined up with Chris.

Not because he had more money, but because he felt secure. Chris -- Chris was someone he trusted, like he'd trusted a rare few in his day. Chris and Nathan, two men who he knew would die for him -- and he'd die for them.

The stuff -- the stuff was because he'd found a home.

He looked at Vin, wondering if Vin understood that.

As if reading his mind, Vin said, "The thing with being a Drifter is that your home is where you are. It's more inside you than what you bring with you."

"You have a base, don't you?" He lifted a hand, letting his finger touch the eagle on Vin's shoulder. "Your tattoos are both by the same artist -- I reckon he must be someone you've known for a while."

Vin smiled, and the expression was completely different from anything Josiah had yet seen on his face.

Love, he thought, this was what love looks like on this one's face.

"All my life," Vin said, but his words were quiet. "We go way back -- he's a Drifter, too, but I reckon you figured that out." He rolled his head a little on the bed, to get a better look at Josiah. "How'd you know he was a he?"

Josiah grinned. "You seem pretty comfortable with what we did. Figure you're fine with the company of men."

Vin grinned too. "Yeah, I don't mind a woman, but given my choices, I like being with a man. Seems more intense."

"Given the things you like, I suspect it is," Josiah emphasized his point by lightly pinching one of Vin's nipples.

"Ow!" Vin said, but he didn't pull away from Josiah's touch and his grin widened. "That hurt."

"That a complaint?"

"Well, if I had my way, it'd be an invitation to a second round," Vin said, his voice going a little husky.

"If I had my way," Josiah said, letting his own voice drop, "I'd go for the same thing. But I'm not as young as I used to be." He leaned closer, planting a light kiss on Vin's lips.

"That a hint?" Vin asked, and Josiah saw the tension in him as he prepared to rise.

"No." He dropped a hand to Vin's belly to stall him. "Not for you to leave. Don't mind you staying -- hell, been a long time since I had a warm body to curl up with. Maybe it's something you've been missing too." He watched while Vin dropped his eyes, not expecting an answer, but seeing one anyway. Without even thinking about it, his hand moved to trace the tattoo on Vin's hip. "But I won't be good for much else before morning."

Vin nodded, one of his hands falling to cover Josiah's. "I can wait till then," he said, his long fingers curling into Josiah's, stilling his movement, then drawing Josiah's hand away.

"So. What is it with you boys and tattoos? Between you and that Edward -- Ezra -- whatever his name is, I ain't never been the center of so much attention."

Edward? Interesting, but then it wasn't the first time Josiah had come up against one of Ezra's aliases, and likely wouldn't be the last.

He chuckled, despite himself. "It's definitely Ezra," he said. "Although man's got more names than a show pony."

"Yeah?" Vin asked, curious.

Too curious. "If you're thinking anything like what we had here, don't," Josiah said sharply. "Ezra is -- well, he's taken."

Vin's eyes widened. "Does he know it?"

Josiah thought about that. "Well, knowing Chris," he started, then grinned, "probably not."

"Chris don't seem the talkative sort," Vin said, but he was smiling.

"You just have to know how to listen," Josiah said.

Vin shivered, then, and it wasn't because of the words. "Be warmer under the blankets," Josiah suggested, pushing himself up.

He held out a hand, helping Vin up and taking another few seconds to look at his body and wonder how he'd managed to score this in his bed.

Vin glanced up, caught his eye, and seemed amused but also, Josiah noticed, a little flushed. "You always stare so much?" he asked, looking around the room. His eyes caught when he found his pants and he stepped toward them.

Josiah caught his elbow, trying to avoid his wrist, and drew him in close. "Only when I've got something nice to stare at," he said. "No need in being shy."

Before Vin could answer, a low buzz sounded through the room, followed by Casey's voice. "Josiah?"

Instinctively, Josiah pulled away, heading for the intercom on the bedside table. "Yeah?" he asked, touching the send switch.

"Sorry, but we've got a small problem," she said. "Captain wants you in his quarters."

"On my way," Josiah said. But he sighed as he let go of the comm button and turned back to find Vin picking up his pants. "You're welcome to stay," he said. "This may not take long."

Vin grinned at him as he stepped into the thin cloth. "Thanks, but I'd feel better in my own space. Take a rain check though," he offered, and Josiah thought there was a bit of hope in his tone.

He walked over, waiting as Vin drew his shirt over his head, all the lovely skin vanishing. He caught Vin's jaw in one hand, drawing his head up so that he could look into Vin's eyes. "Standing invitation," he said, pressing in close, his other hand curving over Vin's ass possessively. "I'll let you bend over for me anytime you want."

This shiver was the way Josiah liked it -- from the gut and the groin.

He kissed Vin, his lips lingering a few seconds, pleased when Vin offered more. He didn't have time for that, though, and reluctantly drew away. "I'll be in touch."

Vin nodded, grinning. "I hope so." He moved past Josiah and to the door, but before it opened, he looked back over his shoulder and said, "Time and space."

Josiah nodded, pleased by the Drifter ritual parting. "Enough for all," he finished, and Vin looked pleased as the door opened and he went through.

Not for the first time, probably not for the last, Josiah cursed Chris Larabee's timing.

The End

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