by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Jules was terribly reticent during the writing of this fic. For a couple of weeks he just didn't want to do anything. By the end of it he was rarin' to go for another round. Go figure.

TIME (SETTING): Written after I saw Dust to Dust, but it could go anywhere in the timeline as long as it doesn't contradict anything.

DEDICATION: To Nicole, because she badgered me until I finished. *grins*

I think his hands embody Phileas' entire personality. His fingers are long and slender, his gestures graceful. His palms are smooth, free of the calluses a man of lesser status would bear. Phileas has aristocratic hands. A handshake is all anyone needs to understand at least half of Phileas' personality: a smug member of the upper class who values his leisure above all.

You'd have to know him better to understand the other aspects of those hands. They are deadly. Phileas seems to be equally comfortable with them wrapped around an enemy's throat as around the stem of a wine glass. He handles a pistol with the same care as a fan of cards.

I've dreamt about those hands. I've imagined them on my skin. Would they be gentle or rough? Demanding or generous? I picture those fingers tangled in my hair or splayed across the small of my back. I've tried to satisfy myself with my own hands, but in my mind they are a poor substitute for his caresses.

Whenever he touches me, no matter how fleeting the moment, no matter what the purpose, I file the moment away in memory. I'm probably obsessed.

At the moment I'm sketching in my notebook. Nothing in particular, just whatever comes to mind. I often surprise myself with what emerges from beneath the pencil. Across from me, Phileas has laid his guns out on the table to be cleaned. There are three. There ought to be five, but he has yet to replace the two Rebecca and I pawned. They were, apparently, rather rare. I can't bring myself to regret their loss, all things considered.

I try to keep my eyes on the page as Phileas works, but they keep drifting up to rest on his hands.

He flips the chamber of the revolver open and removes the three bullets that remain after his practice this afternoon. I tear my eyes away from the sight of him plucking the ammunition from each chamber of the weapon. A brief rattle tells me he's returned the bullets to their boxes and put them aside.

No matter how many times I see him do this, I never get used to it.

Glancing up, I find Phileas intent on his work. He places a bore brush on the cleaning rod, wets it with a strong smelling chemical and proceeds to work it carefully through each chamber. By the time he's moved on to clean the barrel my mouth has gone dry. I quickly look down at what I have been sketching and have to fight down a blush when I realize I've drawn Phileas' fingers, curled around the bore brush.

I turn the page hurriedly to hide the drawing. I pause, pencil hovering, but no images come to mind. None that I can draw. I struggle not to lick dry lips and glance up to find Phileas oiling the hammer. I flush and turn my eyes back to my notebook, but I'm not thinking about drawing anymore. It's not long before I find myself glancing up again, only to find Phileas running an oiled cloth over the barrel of the gun. Dear God.

"If you like," Phileas says casually, not looking up, "you can stop sneaking glances and just watch."

"I wasn't-" I protest, though I know it's useless to do so.

"You were," Phileas lays the first gun back down on the table and looked up at me. He arches an amused eyebrow. "Though I fail to see what you find so fascinating about gun care." I'm sure I've managed to fight down the blush that follows, but Phileas' next comment makes me wonder. "Or is it not the guns you're interested in?"

With that he plucks the pencil from my limp grasp and lets it slide through his fingers. It clicks to a halt when the tip strikes the table. I can't help it - my eyes follow the motion. He chuckles and stands, moves to stand behind me and reaches over my shoulder to flip back a page in my sketchbook.

I slap my hand down on the exposed page, but the spread of my fingers fails to conceal the damning sketch there. Phileas' lips brush my ear when he speaks. "You like my hands, don't you?" I shiver. He rests his hands on my shoulders and brushes his thumbs over the back of my neck.

His voice drops into a lower, rougher tone. The tone of voice he usually uses when making threats. It's dark, and it makes me think of his fingers wrapped around the hilt of a sword. "Care to get to know them a little better?"

I stand quickly, probably a little too quickly, and spin to face him. He looks a little uncertain now. My reaction probably wasn't particularly encouraging, but I have to see his face as he makes that proposition. I need to know it isn't some kind of strange joke.

"I apologize, Verne," Phileas says after a moment.

I shake my head. "Ask me again."

He looks surprised, but instead of asking steps closer and rest one hand on the back of my neck. With the other he tilts my chin up a little. In the next moment his lips are pressing against mine. His fingers curl into the hair at the nape of my neck. I moan softly into the kiss. Not the question I was looking for, but I'm not about to protest.

Phileas pushes my jacket over my shoulders, his hands sliding down my arms to force it off. He breaks the kiss only when the material has settled to the floor, then trails his lips along my jaw. Is it strange that I should find his fingers, fumbling at the buttons on my vest, more arousing than the soft brush of lips against my neck?

My eyes are half lidded, my breath coming quickly. Phileas is working his way through layers of clothing, past endless, frustrating fastenings, and I have yet to even discard his suit jacket. I only cling to his shoulders, trembling with every brush of his hands against my body. He doesn't seem to mind.

The buttons on my shirt seem infinite. Long, slender fingers linger over each one. Small white disks forced through narrow button holes. Tiny, breathless touches as he works the garment open. Sparks skitter across my skin.

My shirt and vest hang open. Phileas slides his hands across my skin, his fingers splayed over my ribs. His touch grows light, teasing for a moment. Almost ticklish. I forget to breathe for a moment. Phileas' touch is hot on my skin. I can trace the path of his caresses in the heat he leaves behind.

Phileas tugs sharply, and I let myself fall against him. The cold, metal buttons on his jacket press against my hot skin. I gasp, then turn the gasp into a kiss. A hesitant taste, a deeper exploration. My hands rest on Phileas' shoulders as I lean into him.

Those beautiful hands withdraw, and for a moment I fear Phileas will follow. But when his lips leave mine is it only to press against my shoulder as he slides my shirt off, carrying the vest with it. Still tucked in, the garment hangs from my trousers, but I pay it no mind. Not with his hands tugging at my belt.

"Aren't you a little over..." my words are lost in the kiss that follows. Our first kiss was soft and slow and beautiful, but this...this is fast and intense and in the instant before Phileas pulls away to speak, I'm convinced it will go on forever.

"Oh dear," Phileas says, quirking an eyebrow, "have you lost your train of thought?"

Phileas drops to his knees, and haven't I dreamed this? His hands are on my belt now, slender fingers unbuckling and unbuttoning and pushing constricting material aside. My knees weaken and I stumble back a step, managing to catch myself on the chair behind me.

I stand, assuring myself of my balance. Phileas has stopped, his hands hovering. He looks at me oddly. "Jules?" he asks softly. He's worried, I realize. Worried that I'm going to turn away, worried that I might refuse him this. Is this the first time he's trusted me with his anxiety, or merely the first time I've seen it?

"Phileas," I murmur, and spare a hand from the back of the chair to caress the short, cropped hair at his temple. I cup the back of Phileas' head, and though I do not pull, he moves forward.

His uncertainty banished, Phileas grins up at me and wraps one hand about my length. He draws me out into the chill air and I actually have a moment to gasp and blush before the blood leaves my face to further harden another part of me.

"Phileas," I gasp, choking halfway through his name when a wet warmth descends on my hardness. "Oh God," I murmur, not really thinking, all my attention on the all too brief strokes of Phileas' tongue. "Please..."

I'm left gasping, chilled. In the next instant I'm engulfed by a slick heat so intense I can't hold back the jerk of my hips. Phileas catches my hips and holds me, his grip firm, each finger distinct on my hips and the curve of my ass. I moan when he draws back and pauses for a moment.

Slowly Phileas takes more of me into his mouth. The first fierce rush of sensation is soon joined by strangest, most incredible little strokes and...oh God...

"More," I hear myself whimper distantly. Phileas sucks harder, lets me slide from between his lips and then draws me within again. "Oh god...oh God..." If Phileas were not holding me back I know I would plunge forward, drive myself between those beautiful lips. I'm shaking with need, both hands clutching the back of the chair behind me.

Phileas is rubbing small circles on my hips with the tips of his fingers. I feel my control slipping and gasp a warning, but Phileas just takes me deeper. I come with a cry, hips thrusting forward when Phileas' grip loosens. Shudders wrack me and I fall to my own knees in what seems like slow motion. Phileas lets me go.

I rest back on my heels for a moment, but it seems I haven't the strength left in me even for that. So I lean forward and half drape myself over Phileas, still kneeling. He strokes the back of my neck lightly, just with the tips of his fingers.

"And I didn't even have to use my hands," he murmurs into my ear.

I shiver, and feel my strength returning.