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Heightened surreal dream imagery flapped about his skull. Faces rose from his past, identities mixing and melding. Too many of them were people he'd been hired to handle. The ones who had wanted to talk beforehand were all talking now, making a nauseous babble that finally drove BlaqJaq back into consciousness, just for relief from the noise.
For a moment everything was gray, without perspective, but he'd lived too long in the 'city not to instinctively take immediate stock of his surroundings upon rousing. You never knew if you were going to awaken to trouble.
This was trouble. His instincts cut sharply through the mental murk, even as he realized that the nausea had followed him out of the dream. Whatever he'd last eaten shifted precariously in his gut. His hands flailed outward. He blinked repeatedly, realized that this place was lit, and was eager to focus his vision and determine where he was. Light ... that meant they were no longer in that air duct--
They? Nickerson. He shoved himself upward from where he was lying, but hands caught him gently. BlaqJaq's vision swam crazily at having sat up so fast, then cleared. He was in a tight space, with Nickerson crouched over him.
"Easy, easy. You flop around like that, you'll hurt yourself."
"Where ... rrrrr ... we?" The question slurred out of him. BlaqJaq tasted something bitter in the back of his throat.
"Off the airway."
BlaqJaq saw that they were in a cramped maintenance nook. He also saw that the light was coming from his battery flash.
Nickerson followed his eyes. "Don't worry. I recharged it with this." He plucked a glowing thumb-sized device from his coat pocket. Theluminescence diminished as BlaqJaq looked at it. "You've got full battery life again, though it's just about drained this recharger."
It was quite a gift. The flash was the only piece of hardware BlaqJaq owned, and it was precious.
"How long was I out?"
"Feels like days."
Nickerson was visibly fighting the relieved smile that wanted to cut across his face. "I'm just glad you woke up. How do you feel?"
BlaqJaq was able to maintain his sitting position without the nausea worsening. Nickerson remained hunkered nearby; the close quarters didn't allow for much else. It was something of a wonder that no one was using this space for a squat.
"Feel like I ate something bad."
"If I still had my medkit, I could give you something to clear it up." And now a corner of his mouth did tug toward something resembling a smile. "There's something ironic in that, I suppose."
Fourteen minutes. Again, BlaqJaq was jolted as full awareness caught up to him. There had been that commotion at the market plaza, people yelling and scattering. The hunt was still on, wasn't it? He'd gotten into that duct, and Nickerson had followed. Then ... then...
"We got to keep moving," he said decisively.
Nickerson put a hand on him once more, this time to give his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Give yourself another minute. That's hunting gas you breathed."
"How did you get me here?"
"You lost consciousness in the duct. I had to push you ahead of me until we got to this hatchway." Nickerson nodded at the opening behind him.
"That must've been some chore."
"There was literally no way I could leave you there." Once more that mouth moved toward a smile's configuration.
He'd been lying useless and unconscious for nearly a quarter of an hour, and incredibly, this man hadn't left him behind, as he no doubt should have done.
BlaqJaq leaned forward and put his own mouth to those lips, feeling Nickerson's surprise and hearing his sharply indrawn breath. Nickerson's scent was manly, clean, and his lips were moist, warm, with a tentative stubble ringing them that softly abraded BlaqJaq's chin and upper lip. The kiss ended, and BlaqJaq hunched back against the wall that was supporting him.
"Been wondering for an hour what that would feel like," he told Nickerson. "Got sick of wondering." A heat flushed through him, surging from his groin to his extremities.
By the light of the flash, he saw Nickerson's cat eyes shift, choose a point on the wall over BlaqJaq's right shoulder, and fix there. His face was immobile. In that truly terrible instant, BlaqJaq realized his mistake and felt a crushing disappointment, not to mention a certain unavoidable embarrassment; he wasn't so adult as to be unable to feel adolescent mortification. Apparently, this just wasn't his night for carnal adventures. He was still feeling his earlier frustration from that miscarried encounter up on Red Run 2. Now this. And this was much worse, since he was drawn to this stranger, and he really had wondered what kissing this man would be like.
BlaqJaq's throat tightened, and he realized with profound surprise that tears were about to fill his eyes. When was the last time he'd cried? When was the last time he'd cared enough about anything to do so?
Before the tears could come--which would've been even more embarrassing--Nickerson tilted his head forward and lowered his lips purposefully onto BlaqJaq's. That mouth moved on his, grinding sensually, and BlaqJaq eagerly returned the kiss. Heat sweltered anew inside him, tingling his flesh, hardening his cock in his leather pants.
Nickerson's lips slid apart, and BlaqJaq met his tongue. It was a wet and playful tangling. BlaqJaq liked the sounds they made together. He pressed his mouth harder on the other man's, enjoying the harsher scouring of stubble, inhaling the male scent deeper, all nausea forgotten, replaced by a fierce and urgent hunger.
He breathed out a low lustful moan when they broke the kiss.
There was a similar hunger on Nickerson's face. "I was wondering too," he said, voice hoarse, mouth wet. "I've been wondering about other things as well..."