Daniel walked in and stood not too far away from the door. The gym was packed with people waiting to use several machines and chatting to pass the time. Most of them were men with towels around their necks, some in shirts and some not, wearing tight little shorts. There were trainers scattered throughout as well, most of them with a client. It was a typical Friday evening, the majority of the men having just got off work.
When he spotted Karl coming towards the desk, Daniel gave him a hesitant wave. Thankfully the black eye and bruised mouth had faded to faint discolorations on his face. Dressed in a pair of loose jeans and blue t-shirt, he didn't look like the rest of the crowd.
"Well, hi there," Karl said, bypassing the desk entirely as he headed toward Daniel. With a gentle grip, he tilted Daniel's head up. "Looking much better. How have you been?"
"Yeah, it's starting to go away. Finally." Looking up at Karl, Daniel smiled a bit. "I wasn't sure what time you got off, but I hoped you wouldn't mind a bit of company. Would you?"
Karl smiled and stroked his thumb over Daniel's bottom lip before letting go. "Sure." Without seeming to give it another thought, he turned and leaned over the desk. The woman behind it just chuckled as Karl crossed off his name for the rest of the day. Turning back to Daniel, he said, "Come on back with me. I need to change, then maybe we can go grab a bite. You eat yet?"
"No, I haven't, but you don't have to take off work. I can come back later."
Karl just grinned and took Daniel's hand, tugging him back toward the locker rooms. "I'm one of the owners," he said casually, taking a swig from his water.
"Oh ... I didn't know that. I guess that's okay then."
"Now you do," Karl said with a wink. "If you don't feel comfortable chatting while I dress, you're welcome to hang out right here. My locker's around the corner." As he walked, he tugged his shirt over his head, back muscles rippling and glistening with sweat.
"Nah, doesn't bother me. I stopped by your place before I came here. Figured you had to be at work." Daniel followed him, then settled on the edge of the bench near Karl's locker, watching the flex of muscle beneath velvety dark skin from the veil of his lashes. "Don't know if you ever expected me to see me again, though."
"Was kind of hoping I would," Karl said. He unlocked his locker and pulled out a black gym bag. After digging through it for clean clothes, he set them on the bench and peeled off his shorts. A black jockstrap held everything, though it left little to the imagination. "Told you before: I'm partial to your company. I think Cin misses you, too."
Oh, he wanted to look, badly. But Daniel wouldn't invade Karl's personal space with blatant staring, so he looked off towards the top of the lockers. "I think I missed you guys, too. Work has been a bit hectic, otherwise I would have come to see you sooner."
"I can understand that. Where do you work, anyway?"
"At an attorney's office down on Fremont Street. And no, I'm not a lawyer, don't want to be one, either. I do office work and research for my dad." Finally, he glanced back down and stared less than overtly at Karl dressed in sinfully tight jeans.
Karl caught his gaze and smiled. "So what are you in the mood to eat?"
Daniel stammered as he ducked his head slightly. "Uh, yeah. Haven't had a chance to eat since last night."
Karl just chuckled and shook his head, tugged a red Polo shirt on, and closed his locker. With the bag slung over his left shoulder, he followed Daniel out. He waved goodbye to a few of the members and trainers, then held the front door open for Daniel. "After you."
"I took the bus down here since Dad needed the car tonight. I'll have to catch it by eleven since that's the last bus that'll run tonight."
Digging his keys out of his jeans pocket, Karl glanced over at him. "How are things at home?" He led the way to a white Camaro.
At first Daniel didn't want to answer that. "Okay, I guess."
Karl stopped and put a hand on Daniel's shoulder. "Why don't I believe that?" He turned Daniel around to see his face.
"I get sick of listening to him, you know." Another casual shrug hid the real emotion behind the words. "Sometimes he gets really hateful."
"Something tells me he's not fond of your choice in partners," Karl said quietly, his eyes never leaving Daniel's.
Not sure how much to say, Daniel played it safe and kept his remark general. "He's not fond of anything about me."
Karl's hand moved up to cup Daniel's cheek, his fingers sliding back through Daniel's hair. "Then he's a fool."
Daniel responded with a grateful smile. "I think he is, too. Just when you're in the middle of it, that's sometimes hard to remember."
Karl gave him a soft smile, gaze lowering just the slightest bit to settle on Daniel's mouth. "Yeah ... I believe it."
Searching for something to say, Daniel opened his mouth, but it took a couple of seconds before the question came out. "What did you want to get to eat?"
Karl blinked and shook his head slightly, letting his hand fall away. "Um, whatever you're in the mood for." He unlocked the car door for Daniel before going around to the driver's side.
"Burger King, if that sounds good." As he settled in the car, Daniel looked out the passenger window and fastened his belt. "We can just stop and get something real quick."
"That works." Karl buckled and started the car, then pulled out into the street. "So, got any plans for the weekend?"
"No, not really. Just hanging wherever I feel like it."
"You know you're welcome to crash at my place."
"It won't be too much trouble? I just wanted to come over and talk to you for a while. Wasn't looking for a place to crash or anything like that."
"I know," Karl said as he pulled into the Burger King parking lot. "It gets lonely. I want you to come over, chill out, hang with me and Cin. Besides, she'd never forgive me if she smelled you on me and you weren't there."
"I enjoyed being with you guys last week. Really did miss you two. You wanna go through the drive-thru or go in?"
"We can go in if you want. Or take it home."
"Drive-thru," Daniel decided. "I'll take a triple Whopper, fries, and a Coke." He dug into his back pocket for his wallet.
Karl reached over and put a hand on Daniel's arm. "My treat. Please?"
"I'm really bad about letting other people pay for my stuff."
"I'm really bad about letting friends pay for everything all the time." Karl drove up to the menu speaker. After ordering their dinners, he moved up to the window, paid, and started handing the bag and drinks to Daniel.
"Why do we sound so much alike?"
"Great minds think alike?"
"Glad you think I have a great mind," Daniel laughed.
"Hell, if this is all it takes to hear you laugh, then maybe I won't have to do tricks."
"Now you know I'm not going to let that pass, Karl. I want to see some tricks now." Grinning impishly, Daniel reached for the door handle when the car stopped in front of Karl's apartment.
"When I actually think of some that could be taken as funny, then I'll remember that," Karl said with a wink. He turned off the car and got out, taking the drinks from Daniel before heading up the stairs.
Bags in hand, Daniel was right behind Karl. He felt a lot happier and more relaxed then when he'd first entered Karl's gym. When he saw Cin barking and trying to get attention, he moved closer to Karl. "We better get in there before she comes through the window."
"I got her a plain hamburger," Karl said as he unlocked the door. The second it was open, Cin barreled out of the apartment, barking wildly and pawing at Daniel's legs. Karl just laughed and shook his head, waving Daniel inside.
Putting both bags in one hand, Daniel tried to keep the food away from the dog as he pet her. At the same time, he headed for the living room. "Heya, Cin. Hungry, aren't ya?"
Karl closed the door and followed Daniel into the living room. "Hey, baby girl. You know Daddy didn't forget you. And look! I even brought Daniel!"
As if she knew exactly what Karl was saying, Cin did a little dance in the middle of the living room floor. Balancing on her hind feet, she twisted and turned and jumped, all the while pawing at the air and yapping happily.
Laughing, Daniel plopped down onto the couch. Just watching Cin and the interaction between her and Karl relaxed him. It was so much different from his own home, the difference like night and day.
Karl set their drinks on the coffee table and dropped down onto the couch beside Daniel. "Where's her burger, before she goes after ours?"
Opening one bag, Daniel found the extra burger and handed the bag to Karl. "Think this one is yours. It has Cin's hamburger." Grabbing the other bag, he pulled his triple and fries out before taking the paper off a straw and sticking it into his soda.
"Cool." Karl unwrapped the plain hamburger and set it on the floor where it was quickly snatched up and carried off to Cin's corner in the living room. Settling back, Karl ate and watched Cin, his gaze wandering occasionally to Daniel, a little concerned, a little curious, and a lot happy.
Daniel could feel Karl's gaze on him while he ate. He felt an urge to open up to Karl, but he wasn't so sure it would be fair. He appreciated everything Karl had done for him, and Daniel didn't want to pile any more of his personal problems on the man.
When they were done, Karl stood and took the trash into the kitchen. Then he returned to the couch and grabbed his drink before sitting back against the arm, facing Daniel. "A part of me wishes you could talk to me," he said quietly. "But then I remember that we only met a week ago."
"Don't think it's that. Just I got a lot going on, and it's not really your hassle to deal with." Curling up against the arm of the couch, Daniel practically huddled in on himself, wrapping his arm around his legs and hugging them against his chest.
Karl stared down at his cup, toying with the straw. "I had a dream about you a few nights ago."
Resting his chin on his knees, Daniel stared at Karl, puzzled. "A dream? About me?"
Karl didn't look up, just nodded. "Kinda like the first night we met, but different place, different guys. But always you. Always me."
"You think I'm trouble and you want to help?"
"Not that you're trouble." Karl glanced up, giving Daniel a sheepish grin that looked well out of place on the face of muscle-bound bodybuilder like him. "I've developed a bit of a protective streak is all," he said finally.
"I was gonna say that, but wasn't sure if I should or not. Do I look that helpless?"
Karl shrugged, looked back down at his drink. "Nah, just that cute."
Daniel opened his mouth to say something then realized he wasn't sure if he should say it. Instead, he decided on something else. "All the guys you see and you think I'm cute? I've seen some of the men at your gym. Those are the kind of guys everybody drools over."
"Then why have I never wanted a kiss from them, but one week has me dying for just one from you?"
Daniel licked nervously at his lower lip and his gaze fastened on Karl's lips. "Why don't you kiss me before I say something really stupid?"
Karl didn't waste any time, taking the invitation for what it was. Scooting closer, he cupped the back of Daniel's neck and pulled him close, bringing their mouths together. He licked tentatively at Daniel's lips and when they parted, his tongue slid inside. Pliable to Karl's touch, Daniel fisted his hand in the front of Karl's shirt. Tugging Daniel closer, Karl twisted slightly, pulling Daniel onto his lap. His other hand rested on Daniel's hip but went no further. He sighed into the kiss, the sound content. Drawing back slightly, Daniel warmed Karl's lips with his breath before his tongue brushed over them again.
"Lord, you're a temptation," Karl whispered.
"And you think you aren't?" Ducking his head, Daniel began to nuzzle against Karl's throat, his words muffled. "God, I want to taste you."
"Anything you want, so long as I can return the favor," Karl said, voice gone husky, deep. He tipped his head, giving Daniel all the room he wanted.
Just the thought was nearly enough to make Daniel come in his pants. Shifting restlessly in Karl's lap, he felt the hardness of Karl's cock beneath him. Without meaning to, he bit more sharply then he meant to at Karl's skin.