James sat in his car, looking up at the old brownstone building in which Malcolm lived and wondered just what the hell he was doing. He'd spent half the afternoon wondering what he should wear. He spent a good ten minutes trying to decide if he should wear cologne or not. If he were given the task of mapping out an underwater course through the Philippines without having to surface, he could do that in about three minutes without a second guess. Where had his backbone gone? Smooth and calm James McNeely was nervous. Not only was there a question of what to wear, but also in the back of his mind, he kept wondering if tonight was the night he would finally have sex. It was like a giant elephant sitting in the room with him. He kept trying to ignore it, but it wouldn't be denied an audience.
After a couple of minutes, James grabbed the bottle of wine he'd snagged from his parent's reserve and got out of the car. Just like in all things he'd ever done, he put his mind to it and pushed forward with a grim determination that would intimidate most people. He took the steps to the front door two at a time and rang the bell. He smoothed the front of his shirt down under his coat, ran his fingers quickly through his hair as one last nervous gesture and plastered a smile on his face as Malcolm opened the door.
Malcolm had watched as James sat in his car. Even though he was trying hard to quell his nerves, James's smile was nervous once he opened the door. Malcolm stepped back to let him in and took his coat. The truth was, Malcolm was just as nervous. The raw attraction and the new, strange feelings he kept getting whenever he thought about James McNeely were like being on a roller coaster, terrifying and fun at the same time. After he'd hung up his coat, Malcolm had to pause, as he looked his guest up and down a few times. The man was the reason blue jeans were invented. They molded to his body like an old glove, contouring to muscular, strong thighs and a really incredible ass. His simple, white button down long-sleeved shirt hinted at strong muscles and a scintillating back. Malcolm's mind wandered, as it so often does, and all he could think about was seeing those legs and that wide shouldered, well muscled back under him as he licked the back of his neck and thrust deep into James's body. James turned around and smiled and Malcolm almost wanted to say to hell with dinner, but stopped himself.
Malcolm was dressed in black slacks with a burgundy shirt that looked like silk. The sleeves were rolled up to show a dusting of golden hair. His shirt had the top three buttons undone, showing off Malcolm's throat and a slight sprinkling of chest hair. James looked down at his own shirt and realized that he'd dressed like he always did, all but the top button done, sleeves fully covering his arms. He wanted to undo some of his buttons, but figured it would look odd. The appreciative looks he was getting from Malcolm put James at ease. Malcolm showed the way into his home and they walked into the dining room and had dinner.
* * *
Dinner had been more than companionable. The two sat and ate their dinner interrupted often by laughter and conversation. They spoke of childhood and college. They shared commiserating stories about growing up in the public eye. They drank the bottle of wine slowly and it added a nice mellowness to the situation that erased both their nervousness and reserve. James was smiling while Malcolm described some of his antics in college. Then he burst out laughing, loud and deep, echoing through the room. "I can't believe you did that!"
Malcolm was wiping tears from his eyes. "Hey, if someone is going to offer me forty bucks to take a dare, I'm going to do it."
James was chuckling. "But to strip naked and dance in the school fountain?"
Malcolm grinned. "I was young and stupid. Come on, I'm sure you have tales to tell too."
James smiled, but it was a bit sad. "Actually, when I was going to school, my dad was in the middle of his campaign. I walked the straight path, never looked to the sides at all."
Malcolm covered James's hand with his. "That must have been very lonely."
James's smile was a little sad. "It was. But, I don't regret it."
Deciding that that sad smile needed to go away, Malcolm grabbed James's hand and led him out of the dining room. They marched up the three flights of stairs and through a den before they reached the ladder to the roof. Malcolm grabbed the buttons on James's shirt and started undoing them. He stood apprehensively as Malcolm slowly peeled his shirt off of him. Malcolm stood for a moment, admiring James's chest. For it was a chest to have sonnets written about. It was a chest that sculptors weep over. It was a chest that said 'get ready, I need to be worshipped for hours.' Malcolm grinned and reached for James's belt buckle. James's hands stilled Malcolm's. "What's going on here?"
Malcolm simply brushed his lips against James's and whispered, "Trust me."
Soon James stood in his boxer-briefs, feeling odd and a bit silly until Malcolm started stripping down as well. James watched as the silk shirt slid to the floor and he could see Malcolm's chest. It was tanned and firm without being overly-defined. It was dusted with hair, just a smattering compared to the deep forest that covered his own. James let out some of his nervousness in laughter as he watched Malcolm hop from foot to foot trying to take his shoes off. Then he was standing before him in his briefs. The man was only wearing simple, white cotton briefs, but the whole picture made James's pulse pound and his flesh lengthen. Malcolm stared at him for a few moments, grinning as his eyes tracked over his body. They downright gleamed when he saw the effect he was having on James's body. He kissed him again and grinned. "That'll keep for later."
Malcolm opened the door to the roof and pulled James outside. It was freezing cold. Both men's nipples contracted into tight points. Goosebumps erupted on their skin. But Malcolm didn't stop until he had pulled James to the ledge. They stood on the rooftop, just a few minutes before midnight in their underwear. James had never felt so foolish or aroused in his entire life. Malcolm checked his watch and started the countdown at one minute to twelve. Once he started counting, he slipped his briefs off and raised his eyebrow to James, clearly challenging him. Before he could stop himself, James slid his underwear off, gasping as the cold air caressed his body, instantly killing the slightest bit of arousal.
Malcolm looked at his watch then walked up to James, wrapping his arms around him and whispering in his ear before he bit it. "Happy New Year." James moaned at the sensation and barely heard the fireworks and the morons in the street banging pots and pans. His shyness forgotten, he kissed Malcolm deeply, running his hands up and down his back. His body was on fire, the feel of all that warm flesh pressed against his felt so good. But before they got carried away, James looked at Malcolm. "Can we go back inside, my balls are freezing?"
Malcolm laughed and led them back inside. Once they climbed down the ladder, they both felt the cold even more. James hustled to get his boxer-briefs and shirt back on. Malcolm dropped his briefs and grabbed a blanket from the back of a couch in the upper den. "Okay, so it wasn't one of my better ideas. But it was fun."
James laughed. "Yeah. It was great. But I'm freezing."
Malcolm grinned at him and stepped back, opening his blanket a bit. "Why don't you sit down here and we'll work on warming up?"
James was in the process of buttoning his shirt, but Malcolm's sultry words stopped him. He walked like an automaton to the couch and sat. Malcolm sat beside him, hip to hip, and fanned the blanket around the both of them. Malcolm stared into James's eyes and used his hands to rough some heat into his arms. Excited, aroused panic poured through every vein in James's body. What was going to happen? What was this the start of? He swallowed deeply.
"Malcolm, what is happening here?"
Malcolm gave a small smile. "I'm not sure. But I like it."
"I've never been with anyone before." His voice stammered and his body shook, with excitement and with fear. "I don't know if I'm ready."
Malcolm felt a warm, happy feeling suffuse his body. Malcolm turned his body, slipping one thigh over James's. He cupped James's face in his hand and brushed his lips gently against James's. "Then I think you should set the pace." He rubbed his thumb along James's cheeks and felt him thicken against his lap. "We won't go any faster or slower than you decide."
His hands went flat on James's chest, his fingers sifting through the hair. James moaned as his fingers grazed against his nipples. Malcolm leaned in and kissed James, delving deep into his mouth, kissing him completely. James's hands moved up to Malcolm's back, skimming over the smooth skin. They flowed as if of their own accord. He hesitated from moving too far down and Malcolm grabbed James's hands and moved them down to cup his ass. James moaned again, liking the feel of the warm, hair dusted globes in his hands.
Malcolm was melting as James kneaded his ass. His body was strumming with pleasure, and all they had done was some kissing and light body stroking. He moved his hands down and undid the two or three buttons of James's shirt, feeling his erection smooth into the silky hair on James's belly. The top of Malcolm's thigh pressed into the bulge under James's underwear. He kept a slight, lazy, random pattern of pressure going as he kissed James. Malcolm loved tweaking James's nipples, hearing him moan against his lips. He was leaking against the furry belly beneath him; he could feel the slight pull from the hair. He kept going, wondering when James would stop him. But that moment never came, despite James's ragged, pained breathing and heavy moans into his mouth. Then Malcolm felt his belly quiver beneath his cock and his legs tense under his. James threw his head back and moaned, crying out as the spasms of completion racked his body. Malcolm's thigh became sticky from his release and it was by the barest margins that he kept from following James over the edge.
James's body was electrified beyond pleasure as the last of his orgasm passed. His body was on fire and he felt drained and energized at the same time. He had also never been more embarrassed in his entire life. He never lost control. Not once in all his years had he let go. The experience thrilled him. But more than that, it terrified him. He just wasn't meant to go from stand still to full marathon right away. Malcolm rolled away from him and James stood, grabbing his jeans and pulling them on, dismayed at how soaked his clothing was and how even after that release, was still almost completely erect. He didn't even bother with the buttons on his shirt. He grabbed his socks and shoved them into his pocket and practically sprinted for the stairs, Malcolm's voice chasing him.
James made it to the front hall, hopping while slipping on his shoes. He grabbed his jacket and rushed out the door. He hadn't made it three feet when Malcolm rushed out the door and called out to him. "James, don't leave. Please?"
The heartache in his voice made James stop and turn to face him. "Malcolm." He didn't know what else he could say.
Despite being barefoot and wrapped toga like in his blanket, Malcolm stepped down to James and cupped his face. "Don't be embarrassed. It happens more often then you might think."
James's blush deepened. "Malcolm, I'm so sorry. This is really too fast for me." He looked down, embarrassed by his old-fashioned values. Jesus! He was almost a Victorian prude when it came to this. "I want to, very badly. But I'm just not ready."
Malcolm leaned in and kissed James quiet. When James had melted against his body, Malcolm looked in his eyes. "It's okay. I told you we'd go at your own pace. I meant it."
James smiled big; his relief apparent in his eyes. "I won't always be such a prude."
Malcolm threw his head back and laughed. "I swear if you got any less prudish, I'd have been right there with you. That I can promise."
James blushed and kissed Malcolm again, walking towards his car, knowing the secret service would pull out discreetly behind him and follow him back to the White House. Malcolm went back inside, smiling as he climbed into bed. His mind filled with images of James as he completed what they had started earlier. He went to sleep shortly after, his release going cold on his belly.
Neither James nor Malcolm knew it, but their goodbye kiss on the front stoop of Malcolm's brownstone was photographed. The young, naïve, mostly out of work freelance photographer just happened to be walking home from a party when he saw the two men. His camera snapped several shots of them. By dawn, the photos were in the news data files. By noon, the story was whizzing around the world. By evening, they were front page worthy stories.
* * *
James stood, staring out from his window in the Lincoln Bedroom. His grin was wide and not stopping as he remembered the night before. It was early, just after dawn. He hadn't slept much. His body was still humming from the previous night. His mind was lost in contemplation. He was going to be twenty-seven soon. Somehow, someway, he had fallen in love. In his heart, he knew that he hadn't known Malcolm long enough. He really knew nothing about him. Although their conversation from the night before let him know that he was fun and free. He was a good man, someone thrust into a responsibility he never planned on taking but was striving to do the best job he could. James admired him. But more than that, he liked him. His body made his sing. His eyes were kind and caring, almost reverentially loving whenever he looked at him. In his heart, he knew it was too soon. He didn't know him well enough. But it didn't matter. His heart had made up its mind and decided to fall. Perhaps this is how it was supposed to be. Maybe love happened fast and furious, with no pause and little logic.
He left the bedroom, searching for his mother. He found her having breakfast with his father in the solar on the second floor. They invited James to join them. They smiled at him, and James felt himself blushing, as if what had happened last night were flashing in a neon sign over his head. Madeline took one look at her son and felt the prickling of tears sting her eyes. Her son was in love.
"So he's the one?" She caressed James's face, staring into his eyes.
James shifted in his seat, not quite meeting her eyes. "It seems like it's too soon."
John laughed and clapped his hand on his son's back. "I knew that your mother was right for me about three minutes after I met her."
James stared at his dad, with a mixture of admiration and wonder. "That fast?"
John shook his head. "I fought it. I denied that it was real. But it was. I guess that's why I waited three weeks before I asked her to marry me."
James chuckled, "Thank God. I was afraid there was something wrong with me."
A secret serviceman interrupted them, "Excuse me Mr. President. Senator Richardson is here; he'd like to see Captain McNeely."
John turned to his son and winked. "Let him come up, Roger. Thank you."
Malcolm walked in, only mostly disappointed that James's parents were there with him. Not that he disliked them, but he really was hoping he could grab some kissing this morning. "Good morning Mr. President. Mrs. McNeely. James."
No one mistook that Malcolm's voice deepened and thickened when he said 'James.' Madeline invited him to sit and join them for coffee. They sat in companionable silence, drinking coffee, finishing breakfast, and sharing looks. After a couple of minutes, Malcolm piped up, unable to handle the silence any longer. "Well, has anyone heard a good joke lately?"
It broke the tension and everyone laughed. Malcolm reached over and brushed his hand along James's arm, causing him to break out in goose bumps. When he was about to speak, the secret serviceman came to the table again. "Excuse me, Mr. President, but Alan Espinoza is on his way."
Sighing deeply, John stood. "It wouldn't be a normal day without the press."
A tall, slender man cleared the stairs and came to the table. "I'm sorry to interrupt Mr. President. There's a story that will be hitting the wires in a few hours. Thought you'd like to know about it."
John turned to his press secretary and nodded. "Do we need to take this private?"
Alan cleared his throat, obviously uncomfortable. "Um... it involves Captain McNeely and Senator Richardson."
John's eyes shot over to the two men sitting with his wife. "How?"
Taking a file from under his arm, he laid it on the table. "There's a photograph from last night. Looks like someone caught a kiss on film."
James stood with the picture in his hand, appalled that he'd been caught, and how turned on by how erotic the visual reminder of last night he'd become. "Damn! Who did this?"
Alan bored his eyes into James. "A freelance photographer was walking home from a party and caught this outside the Senator's home." Turning back to the President, he calmly asked, "How do you wish to handle this sir?"
"There's nothing to handle. My son went on a date. Most dates end in a kiss."
Clearing his throat. "Sir, your son is not openly gay. He's a naval officer. There is going to be a lot of questions on this."
Seeing his son get paler with each passing word, John wanted to dismiss Alan Mendoza. "Then the answer is 'no comment.'"
"No. I'll see you downstairs for the briefing in ten minutes."
When the press secretary had left the room, John walked to his son and placed his hands on his shoulders. "It's okay, James. It doesn't matter."
"I knew something like this would happen."
Madeline chimed in with motherly concern. "James, nothing's happened. Nothing's wrong."
Pain filled eyes lifted to hers. "Yes, there is."
Malcolm, getting more pissed with each passing minute, calmly said, "And what is wrong?"
James turned pained filled eyes to Malcolm. He swallowed deeply and John caught the mood and cleared his throat. "I'm sure the free world needs us, Madeline. We'll leave the two of you alone."
After they had left, James had no idea what to say. He'd been insensitive. "Malcolm, I'm sorry."
Malcolm stood, clearly agitated. "What was so wrong? What happened that was so bad?"
James sat still with his eyes closed. How could things have fallen apart so quickly? All he'd wanted was to have what everyone else had. Was that so wrong? Obviously it was. It killed him to do it, but he was going to have to let Malcolm go. Before he could even say the words, Malcolm had his jaw in his hands.
"Don't!" He kneeled down. "Whatever you're going to say, don't. Forget it. I'm not leaving."
James looked at him in wonder. "How'd you know I was going to say that?"
Malcolm's voice came out as a snort. "Let me guess... you can't see me anymore. What happened, although pretty damn incredible, isn't worth the scandal." He stood and paced a few moments then turned back. "How close was I?"
James shrugged. "Pretty close. Although I wouldn't have said what happened last night was 'pretty damn incredible.'" When Malcolm went to say something, James held up his hand to stop him. "It was the best time I've ever had." He shrugged one shoulder and shifted embarrassingly in his seat. "Even if it was one-sided."
Malcolm came back to squat before James's chair. "That doesn't matter. What happened last night wasn't wrong. It was beautiful. It was mutually fulfilling, and I don't want it to be over."
"Neither do I."
Malcolm's grin was wide and happy. James covered his mouth with his hand. "But it doesn't change some things." He stood and walked to the windows, looking out at the lawns. "I'm a Naval officer. I've just been outed by the national press. No one asked, and I didn't tell, but that doesn't mean I'm not in violation of the rules of military conduct."
This equipment was specially modified or made by AdminPwn on player request in the early Beta days in exchange for credits. This process was soon discontinued as it was time consuming and took away AdminPwn's time to work on the actual game. There is no mention of the feature to ever return, so please do not suggest it. Some of these items are unique items and not available for public use, but some are now available for purchase (The Rebellion and Titanium Blades).
The “midseason break” approach might be the best, since it also allots Martin more time to write. The author is notoriously slow paced (the first book was released in 1996!), and the worst things that could happen would either be A) Fans of the show having to wait extra YEARS between seasons so Martin could finish his next book(s). B) Martin rushing to finish and the story suffering (even more than it has). C) Martin writes and airs the TV show FIRST, and fans of the books have to know the plot line before getting to fully immersive themselves in the world they’ve invested in for so long.
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The second field in which research on Consciousness is taking place is through the measure of blood flow in the brain, called fMRI (2). The primary principle of fMRI is very simple: it measures the exchange of Oxygen between the blood cells and the consuming neurons. The more a neuron is active, the more oxygen it consumes, and so the stronger the signal gets (from blue to red on the scale) on the brain image scan.
The bolt itself has a large tactical style bolt knob with some very light grooves machined into it, supposedly to provide some additional gripping texture. Though the grooves are not pronounced enough to really provide much additional grip. There is also some light spiral fluting on the bolt body that is likely more decorative than anything, although we suspect it does provide some help with giving dirt or mud someway to exit the action if any finds its way into the bolt area. On the bolt face there is a small claw, almost like an AR15, that is used in conjunction with a spring loaded plunger to provide extraction duty and it worked well through out all our tests. There are also two smaller protrusions on the bottom of the bolt face and they are used to help strip the rounds from the AR style magazines when feeding. When the bolt is in the action and when cycling, there is some bolt slop, meaning some movement left, right, up and down, especially when the bolt is to the rear. This slop does hamper the smoothness of the action and gives it a notchy and cheap feel when cycling.