A Pair of Pairs

Story by comidacomida on SoFurry

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#14 of More Than Friends

As promised, another chapter of More Than Friends for August! Wow... only a few more chapters to go until the conclusion. It's hard to believe.

This story was originally based on pictures drawn by the incredibly talented (and incredibly absent) Arakupa, but I have decided to forge ahead with the story despite the lack of art. I have decided to more formally start posting updates to this story at least once a month until it is complete!

Picking up right where the last chapter left off, Paul and Tanner are involved in some intimate moments shared with Ray and Michelle. A few days later the two of them meet another couple and hilarity ensues. I know a lot of readers were waiting with baited breath for Paul and Tanner to run into Jason and JD-- you're welcome. ;)

More Than Friends pushes forward, and the next chapter will be up within the next 33 days!

The continuation of this series is brought to you by special contributors on my Patreon: Prator, LeonBarzai, and Brennus!

Finally, comments, critiques, questions, and quandaries are always welcome.

A Pair of Pairs copyright 2015 comidacomida

Paul honestly didn't know what to expect when it came to 'intimacy' with Michelle; he'd never actually had sex with a woman before and he still suffered from the discomfort of his horribly failed prom night date from high school. The apprehension only grew as the four of them made their way to the bedroom, and it only got worse when Michelle slipped out of her dress to reveal a black lacy bra. She obviously sensed his discomfort. "Just relax, Paul-- this isn't life or death surgery."

He almost jumped when Tanner stepped up behind him, placing his paws on the Human's shoulders. The Dog began to gently rub his back, leaning forward to whisper softly. "I got you, and you got this."

It took a moment before Paul realized what it was Tanner was saying, but the moment the Shepherd slid his paws down Paul's back and up under his shirt a little thrill ran through him. Was he REALLY going to do this? When the Dog's paws began to loosen his belt the Human began to feel his body respond; apparently he was. Michelle was right there kneeling on the bed next to where he stood on the floor, her hands pressing up against his stomach as she gently kissed his stomach right above his belly button. Paul closed his eyes, raising his head back against Tanner's face and the Shepherd nibbled on his ear.

He could feel himself blushing as Michelle pulled his pants free and doubly so when she freed him from his underwear. Paul gasped, shivering faintly as Tanner's smooth paw pads found their way to his freed member, and very nearly jumped in surprise when Michelle's gentle hands cupped his testicles. Only then did he open his eyes... and he was quite surprised to see Ray also undressing. Something about the Retriever's actions had him transfixed and he watched with unabashed interest as one of his best friends got naked with him.

Paul lost track of Ray the moment Michelle's lips touched his erection. Before he knew it he was hilted in her mouth and she began to caress the underside of his shaft with her tongue. When he regained his senses he saw that Ray had stepped out of his pants, bearing himself entirely. The Retriever was in good shape but had the hint of the middle-age paunch that was so common among non-active men. His fur was shaggier than Tanner's especially along his chest, down his belly and groin hinting at an almost human-like treasure trail... but the most noticeable thing was the Dog's thick sheath which was already damp at the tip where a sliver of pink was just starting to peek out.

Ray did not remain idle for long, climbing up onto the bed where Michelle was kneeling to service Paul. He went down onto all fours behind her and Paul jumped in surprise as her lips tightened around his flesh; Paul could HEAR Ray's tongue at work... and not just because of Michelle moaning against his member. Tanner nibbled on the back of Paul's neck and a little thrill ran through him when he heard the sound of Tanner's pants fall to the floor.

Just as Paul was finally starting to really get into it Michelle pulled back. "Okay, Dakota... I think you're ready."

After saying her piece she slid backwards, caught by Ray as he joined her on the bed and he lowered her onto her back, legs trailing down so that her feet just brushed the carpet. She then contracted her stomach muscles and brought her legs back up, spreading them. Paul swallowed his apprehension as he saw his target which was already slick with a combination of Ray's saliva and Michelle's natural 'lubricant'. He felt his heart beating a mile a minute, teetering on the edge of backing out... right up until the moment Tanner eased him forward just enough so that the Dog could find entry into Paul's backside. It was enough to keep him hard.

Ray held Michelle's hands in one of his paws, the other one sliding a pillow up beneath her head as he looked down at her, speaking softly before he knelt forward and kissed her. Paul's focus went again to the task at hand as Tanner gave another thrust, easing another inch into him before holding steady, paw around the base of the Human's shaft as he helped ease him forward into Michelle. Gasping, Paul reached down to take hold of Michelle's hips and pull her further toward him, impaling her with the movement of his arms as much as through the movement of his hips (further aided by another thrust from Tanner). He and Michelle both gasped at the same time and Paul shut his eyes.

Still unsure if he had it in him to finish the job, Paul's apprehension was starting to get the better of him but Tanner did not give him a chance to second-guess himself. Controlling their hip movements through his thrusts alone, Tanner used enough force to effectively push Paul deeper still into Michelle. By that time her legs were wrapped around Paul's hips and her heels were locked behind his thighs giving her enough grip to pull Paul against her and enough room for Tanner to push into him. After a few moments Paul finally managed to open his eyes again when he heard and felt movement across the bed. What he saw immediately caught his 'interest'.

Michelle had been caressing Ray's thighs and coddling his sheath and testicles; his interest in her ministrations was obvious as his flesh was fully exposed, completely erect, and deep red in color. He was slightly shorter in length than Tanner but incredibly thick... and dribbling constantly. Paul was transfixed as he watched the Retriever crawl on paws and knees across the bedspread, straddling Michelle as he did so. The older Dog's ears were red and slightly back as he met Paul's gaze. "Thank you, Dakota..."

It was an odd time to express thanks but it didn't surprise him as much as Ray's muzzle pressing up against his lips. That sudden gesture of closeness plus the proximity of the naked Retriever was more than enough to switch Paul's focus to the moment-- being kissed by a good friend and being entered from behind by his boyfriend... at that second he didn't care that he was hilted in a female; Michelle was a friend too, and he was in the middle of it all. He could feel the moment Michelle's lips enveloped Ray's eager flesh when the Dog's muzzle firmed against his mouth and was accentuated by a soft, happy growl.

He lost track of what happened next but he knew it was beyond all logical focus. Paul didn't know if he came because of Michelle's orgasm or if she did because of his suddenly eager movements as he neared his own but the end result was mind-blowing. In front of him he could watch Ray panting eagerly, absorbed in the sensations of his fiancé's lips on his shaft while behind him he felt the intense fullness of Tanner within him and the Shepherd's knot pounding eagerly at his opening. He cried out at some point, feeling his body finally surrender to the stimulation surrounding his member and he emptied himself into Michelle's eager opening.

The moment he was done he managed to rasp out, gasping. "I... I.... did it... we-- oh..."

Tanner stepped back once Paul made the declaration, almost feral in his insistence at bending the Human over the bed; the Shepherd had never been very good at getting off while they were both in a standing position so it only made sense. Once Paul was on his knees with his chest resting on the mattress Tanner wasted no time in pushing in further, grinding his hips against the Human's as he massaged his knot into Paul's opening with constant and insistent pressure.

The young man moaned as he was forced open, gripping the bedspread in both hands even as Ray slid down onto the floor beside him. The Retriever pulled Michelle close, sliding his turgid red shaft into her in one go. In that position with his paws at her hips he seemed almost like a four legged dog for a moment as he thrust rapid-fire into her, working her open to accommodate his thick member even as she locked her heels around his back just above his tail; in unison he thrust as she clamped down and Paul was able to hear the wet, slick sound of Ray knotting her... at exactly the same time Tanner succeeded with him.

There was a chorus of moans, groans, euphoric cries, and, in Ray's case, a deep-chested growling roar; it was unsettling to Paul in a surprisingly erotic way... almost as much as the fact that he ended up coming again once he felt Tanner's member begin to pulse inside him, filling the Human's depths even as Paul's testicles were emptied. By the time the chaos had quieted down Paul was laying with his face, chest, and stomach on the bed with Tanner resting atop him. He remembered mumbling something about an apology for the carpet, which had earned nothing more than a joined laugh from their host and hostess. Shortly after that the four fell asleep together on the sofa; Paul hadn't been able to remember a time he felt so good about being so crowded.

* * * * * *

While Paul had thoroughly expected an awkward morning and a quick escape back home the following day he was surprised when everything started off more like waking up after a sleepover at a friend's house. Technically, he realized, that's precisely what it was. Michelle was up early making waffles in the kitchen while Ray was seated at the dining room table reading the newspaper. The Retriever had a mug of coffee in one paw and offered the guests the same. Tanner joined him for a cup and Michelle handed Paul a glass of orange juice; according to her the natural sugars there were a suitable substitute for caffeine.

They chatted around the table enjoying a leisurely breakfast as the conversation rolled along from topic to topic. Nothing about the previous night's activities came up but, rather than feeling like the elephant in the room it simply didn't hold the weight of 'important subject' as the discussion jumped from thoughts on the wedding, what movies would be coming out soon, and plans for the photo shoot; Michelle ended up saying yes-- just so long as she could schedule around her shifts at the hospital.

If the visit would have ended after breakfast Paul would have considered it a win but he was reminded that the couples had not been given a chance to see the Rin-Tin-Tin movie the prior night and so the after-dinner movie turned into an after-breakfast one. Surprisingly the day continued on a positive note as he and Tanner hung out through lunch. Every moment that passed Paul expected things to 'get weird'... but they never did. When the couples finally parted late in the afternoon it was with the same pleasant familiarity and casual good-natured amiable camaraderie that they had always done. Only then did Paul hold out hope that what they'd shared the previous night wouldn't end up causing a rift between them.

The rest of the weekend continued on at the same upward trajectory as the start. Paul got some quality time with Tanner Saturday night when they cooked dinner together and ate it in the living room snuggled up on the couch watching 1980s sitcom reruns. Sunday was even better: sleeping in and a late brunch followed by chores around the house together before they settled down to an afternoon of a certain Human learning about technology. It led to an evening full of laughs, a dinner still full of laughs, and Paul resolving to get his free cell phone upgrade if for no reason other than to have one that doesn't require speaker mode all the time. Although they went to bed just before eleven Sunday night didn't actually come to a close until just after midnight... and it was a good 'climax'.

Monday arriving normally would have put a dent in Paul's mood but for once it didn't even phase him. He got into the office and went straight into project planning. He added Michelle's name to the roster and sent an email to Mr. Howe and Eizenzahn both. The day progressed at the quick pace of a Monday full of activities and before he knew it his coworkers were getting ready to go. Things came to a halt when Ben wandered by his cubicle with a simple question. "So... ready for tomorrow?"

Paul was just getting ready to switch off his computer and froze mid-reach before turning to regard the big black man. "Tomorrow? What's tomorrow?"

In a rare show of his usually hidden, dry humor, Ben responded with a matter of fact reply to the question. "Tuesday."


Ben did not relent. "The 11th."

Remembering a trick Tanner had shown him about clicking on the date/time display at the bottom of his screen, Paul pulled up the electronic calendar and looked at the resulting window; it didn't help. He glanced to Ben, who crossed his arms, staring back. Paul was just about to pull out his day planner when it struck: Tuesday the 11th-- THE AIRPORT! A small crack appeared in his previously unblemished positive mood. "...Jason Campbell."

A very faint smirk appeared on Ben's lips. "Right. So... you ready?"

Paul took in a breath and slowly exhaled. A moment passed and he suddenly realized something that was not normal in his life. "You know... I think I am!"

As it turned out, he was-- mostly.

* * * * * *

Tuesday itself passed in the blink of an eye. It seemed like barely an hour between when he said goodbye to Tanner as the Shepherd headed off to work to when the Dog came to see him at his cubicle noting that his shift was over. It was also about that time when Mr. Howe wandered by. "Afternoon, Dakota."

"Hello, Mr. Howe. Tonight at the airport-- I haven't forgotten."

The Terrier smiled, giving Tanner a pat on the shoulder before stepping into Paul's cubicle. "This IS a work function, Mr. Miller. Considering traffic it could take a little while to get to the airport. Since you're paid for mileage and time why don't you head out now so our V.I.Ps aren't kept waiting at the terminal."

Paul paused at that, taking a moment to look down at the form he was completing. "Definitely. I'll finish this requisition request and--"

Mr. Howe was already on his way out. "Hand it off to Ben. I'd rather you be early than late. Jason is usually just fine waiting but I'd rather not have JD cause a scene."

Paul swallowed the apprehension building about what he'd come to understand to be a monster of a Dog. "Is JD REALLY that bad, Mr. Howe?"

Tanner chuckled and rolled his eyes. The only response from the Terrier was unrelated. "You'll need to show your company expense card at the hotel when you drop them off. And I already told you: call me Walt."

Paul glanced over at Tanner and repeated the question. "You know JD-- he's not REALLY that bad... right?"

The Shepherd smirked. "Relax, Paul... you probably have nothing to worry about."

The Human paused. "PROBABLY?"

Tanner out and out laughed, holding out a paw to him. "Come on. I'll go with and protect you from the big bad Bully."

Despite the humor of the statement Paul felt immediately better. It wasn't that he was REALLY worried about JD but being alone in a car with strangers didn't wholly appeal to him. The two went out to the parking lot and Paul paused. "So... uh... should we head back home first so we can just take one car to the airport?"

Tanner touched his nose to the Human's. "Sounds like a good idea. I'd say we should take mine because JD'll probably appreciate the extra leg room but this IS your show so we'd better stick to yours... plus I'd rather avoid him commenting on mine."

If Paul had ears that could move they probably would have raised. "Why's that? What's wrong with your car?"

The Shepherd waved away the concern. "Nothing... but knowing JD I'm sure he'd find SOMETHING so he could get on my case about it."

"And I have NOTHING to worry about?"

Despite the fact that Tanner was walking away from him Paul could STILL tell he was smiling because of the tone of his reply (and a VERY waggy tail). "PROBABLY nothing."

The trip home was uneventful but the time alone in the car gave Paul plenty to think about. He had never actually met Jason or JD in person but had spoken on the phone with both; if the gruff conversation with the Bull Terrier had been any indication he wasn't completely willing to forestall his worry but once Tanner was in the car Paul managed to calm down. They chatted about a little of everything on their way to the airport. Jason and JD only came up in the conversation as they neared the terminal labeled 'ARRIVALS'.

Paul had just pulled the car up to the curb. "So... you know what they look like, right?"

Tanner glanced his way with a grin. "You didn't follow Casey's advice and watch an episode of Dog-Eat-Dog?"

The Human sighed. "Some time between working late, a weekend full of Ray, Michelle, and You, and focusing on the Mein--"

The Shepherd reached over and rested a paw on Paul's leg. "Relax, Paul... I'm not trying to criticize... just take a deep breath. Yes; I know what Jason and JD look like."

Paul followed his boyfriend's advice and took a deep breath through his nose, letting it out slowly through his mouth as he glanced around the terminal, freezing when he saw a large sign. "Wait... no parking?"

Tanner followed his gaze to the written announcement. "Hmm... probably one of those NSA or TSA rules... been awhile since I picked anyone up at the airport."

The Human nodded. "Yea... we drove ourselves last time... so I guess we circle?"

Getting no objection from the Shepherd, Paul put the car into drive and eased slowly back into traffic. "Check my notes, please? What time is their plane supposed to be in?"

Tanner flipped through the pages Paul brought with as they merged with traffic and continued on past the gates. "Hmm... looks like they should touch down any minute. Lemme check and see if I can find out when they're expected to land."

Paul hazarded a glance at the Dog who had pulled out his cell. "What's with the phone?"

The Shepherd smirked, typing away at the touch screen. "I'm going to the carrier's site and tracking the flight."


Tanner managed to not laugh. "They post up-to-date schedules on when flights are due in. It'll say if it's running late or-- oh! Looks like it already touched down... almost fifteen minutes early."

Paul let out another breath. "Well... good thing Mr. Howe sent me here early."

The Shepherd's grin returned. "He told you to call him Wa--"

"Oh shut up."

They circled the terminals twice more as they waited for any sign of Jason and JD. Tanner passed the time by telling Paul some anecdotes of his life in college with the two of them. While they had stayed in touch the three hadn't actually spent any time together since Jason and JD moved out to New York. Emails and phone conversations aside, Tanner was almost as in-the-dark as Paul but he seemed excited nevertheless to reconnect with friends from his past. That too was just one more piece of apprehension added to the mix.

It was on the fourth pass when everything came to a head and it started with a huge crowd blocking view of the revolving doors that led into the baggage claim. Paul slowed, craning his head as much as he dared while trying to watch traffic. "What do you think THAT'S about?"

Tanner rolled down the window so he could stick his head out and look as they went by. "Probably Jason and JD."

"JD wouldn't've killed someone, would he?"

Tanner snorted. "Don't be so worried about JD, Paul. Honest. Yea, he can be a little intimidating but he's really just a big ol' teddy bear-- do NOT tell him I said that."

Paul couldn't resist. "Why? Scared?"

Rather than answer, Tanner held up a paw. "Stop. That's them."

Paul pulled up against the curb, finally setting the parking break on as he tried to look past Tanner. "How can you tell through the crowd?"

The Shepherd glanced his way and smirked, pointing to his ears. "I call tell BECAUSE OF the crowd-- you can hear people calling out for Jason."

The Human had just started to try and strain his ears when the huge throng of people finally started to part like birds fleeing before a barge... except that barge was a rather imposing, incredibly big Bull Terrier shooing them away. His dismissal was not entirely pleasant either. "Yeah, yeah, yeah-- Jason's great, but we got somewhere ta be. Buy a ticket next time you're in New York."

The mountain of a Dog was followed by a man about Paul's own age. Jason had blond hair that wasn't TOO blond and blue eyes that weren't TOO blue. He had an easy-going, casual gait and stopped to smile and shake hands with anyone who had stuck close enough to do so after JD's passing. If Paul was awkward then Jason was the polar opposite; he handled each and every fan with an easy-going comfort that would have made Paul jealous if not for the friendly smile that hit him the moment he started to feel lesser for it. "Hey! Paul! I'm glad to finally meet you!"

Tanner took the opportunity to get out of the car. JD wasted no time hoisting Tanner into the air in what seemed like an excessively brutal bear hug. "Hey, Tan-Head! Been awhile, Fuzzy!"

The Shepherd wheezed out something that sounded like a pleasant reply once he had the opportunity to draw breath and the two Dogs bumped noses. Paul realized that there was a distinctive difference between how he'd seen Tanner nose-bump someone like Casey or Ray; JD's seemed more akin to a head-butt. It almost reminded him of frat guys exchanging arm punches. Frankly, as far as Paul was concerned it sounded like it hurt.

Once the luggage was stowed in the trunk Tanner led Jason around to the passenger side rear door and held it open for him. JD on the other hand moved right out into the road, flipped the passing driver off and shouted an obscenity including something along the lines of 'Like you weren't able to see me, prick?' and got in. Once he was situated behind Paul the Dog cleared his throat. "So you're Paul Miller, huh?"

"Uh... yes?"

JD snerked. "Sounds like you're not sure. Maybe you should ask Tanner when he gets in."

Jason had just settled into his own seat but he didn't seem to have any trouble following along the conversation. "JD... do you remember when you said you'd be on your best behavior?"

The Terrier 'hrumph'ed theatrically and Paul saw him fold his arms across his chest indignantly in the rearview mirror. "This IS me behaving, J. It's small talk. Californians love it, remember?"

Paul cleared his throat nervously. "Well, I'm not a Californian. I'm originally from--"

Tanner interrupted him with the closing of the passenger door. The Shepherd glanced around the car before he rotated in his seat and stared at JD. "What'd you do?"

The Terrier threw his paws up in frustration. "NOTHING!"

Paul winced when the large Dog's paws scratched the lining on the car's roof. Rather than say anything about it he quickly pulled up a focus for discussion. "I got you both a room at the Golden Fir Hotel. I hope that'll be okay."

He put on his blinker and merged into traffic as Jason fretted over JD's positioning in the car. "That sounds just fine, Paul... neither of us are picky. So long as it has a bed and bathroom I'll be-- JD, you don't have your seatbelt on do you?"

The car's suspension rocked slightly while the Terrier shifted positions behind him. He growled in frustration as he spoke, squirming out of his shirt all the while. "Yea... gimme a sec. I'll strap in inna sec-- I've had this damn thing on since we first got on the plane and it has a tag in the back that's been fucking with my fur..."

Paul saw a grin crease Tanner's muzzle moments before the Dog spoke. "Shirts ARE usually part of being dressed when you're out in public, JD."

Hazarding a glance at the canine in the back, Paul was taken aback when he caught sight of JD without a shirt. The Terrier was heavily built but it was mostly in muscle. The Human quickly brought his thoughts back to an appropriate comment. "Just so you know, you and I BOTH get tickets if a cop pulls me over and you're not buckled up."

JD fidgeted, tossing his doffed shirt to Jason and his paws went down out of Paul's view. "Yea, yea... just a minute."

A few moments of rummaging later and the Terrier straightened up, squirming this way and that as he worked his way into a black t shirt. Things finally started to calm down after that, but only enough that JD's constant comments about everything under the sun became a dull background roar (as subtle as a landslide). Paul made a point to stay out of it but Tanner jumped in with both feet; despite the Terrier's overbearing attitude the Shepherd did surprisingly well for himself.

Jason masterfully brought the rather controversial discussions to a close (JD had gone over religion, government, and just about every other polarizing topic in the course of ten minutes) by making a simple inquiry. "Hey, Paul. I appreciate the ride. Can JD and I pay you back by taking you two out to dinner? It'd be great to get to know you away from a camera and we have some catching up to do with Tanner."

JD snorted. "Rain check, Jay. I just wanna get into our hotel room so we can have some QT. We can take em out another night."

Tanner took the opportunity to take a verbal jab at the Terrier. "Awww... suffering from jet lag, huh?"

Paul almost shifted lanes inadvertently at JD's blunt remark. "More like jet-lack. Soon as we get in we're gettin' nekkid. Jay and I haven't had any time alone since yesterday morning. Dinner can wait, 'til after dessert."

Jason was apparently as observant as Tanner had suggested; he hadn't missed Paul's faint wheezing cough. "Are you alright?"

JD didn't miss a beat. "That's MY line."

Paul quickly glossed over everything and tried Jason's tactic of redirecting the conversation with a casual inquiry. "Do you guys like Thai?"

It did not work; JD saw to that. "What the fuck do you think I was just talkin' about? Of COURSE I like 'tie'... soon as I get Jay into the room we're--"

Paul panicked. "I mean Thai cuisine! Asian!"

The correction didn't seem to phase the Terrier at all. "Yea... I guess. Just so long as it's not a Chinese joint."

Finally believing the worst was past, Paul let out a breath and clarified. "Not Chinese, no. Thai. They use lots of peanuts and noodles and stuff. There's a really good dish Tanner and I like called Pad Thai."

The worst, actually, was yet to come. JD did not relent. "That's like pawing off, right? Tying your pad?"

Paul groaned but the only support he got from Tanner was having the Shepherd lean over and state quietly. "Yes... this is EXACTLY what living with you is like."

* * * * * *

When they arrived Tanner and JD got out of the car first; the Shepherd thought it'd be best to go on ahead in case there was a line and give Paul a few moments of reprieve from the epic personality that was Jack Daniels. Once he and Jason were alone Paul had to ask. "So... JD, huh?"

Jason waited for him to close the trunk before he picked up his luggage and the two walked toward the hotel entryway; Jason was all smiles. "Yes, JD. He's quite a Dog, if you haven't noticed."

"I uh... I DID notice some... 'idiosyncrasies'..."

Jason laughed in a calm, good natured fashion. "Well, JD has always been opinionated and tends to have a very relaxed opinion of others. That also means he expects them to have a pretty forgiving view of him. He can make some quick judgments about some people-- like when he hears an ongoing conversation on the phone end abruptly because of someone disconnecting."

The little reminder of Paul's very first conversation over the phone with Jason's media crew came back to him and he felt immediately embarrassed. "Right... um... sorry, I just--"

Jason held up a hand to stall the comment. "No need to apologize, Paul. I understand wanting to have your privacy all the while getting harassed by the media. Believe me."

Paul glanced his way as they entered the hotel, its large automatic doors sliding open for them. "You seem to do pretty well with it."

The other Human shrugged as he moved up beside where JD was standing and slid his hand into the Terrier's paw. "I don't face it alone, Paul... nobody has to, you know."

Paul obediently presented the corporate card when their turn in line came. He confirmed with the attendant the room number and the reservation and then identified the two guests. The concierge acknowledged both, typed a few things into his computer, and then slid two plastic cards through an electronic device. He then put the cards into a paper sleeve and slid them to Jason. "Your room is on the eighth floor, Mr. Campbell-- room 819. You can take the elevator to your right up to the floor and then make a left."

Jason took one of the two cards out of the sleeve and handed everything else to JD; the Terrier was much more obvious about fumbling through all of the information. "Two queen beds? Why would we need TWO queen beds?"

Jason skillfully handed the objection in a way that didn't draw as much attention as Paul had been fearing. "Mr. Miller didn't know how to handle sleeping arrangements so he selected the one that offered the most flexibility."

JD turned back to look at Paul; for a moment the young man had trouble reading the Terrier's obtuse expression but eventually JD flicked an ear. "One bed's fine."

"I'll... uh... remember that for... uh... next time."

Tanner stepped between Paul and JD and struck up a conversation immediately with the Terrier. Jason hung back so he could walk with Paul. The confident man rested a comforting hand on Paul's shoulder. "He's just posturing because he's not sure what to make of you just yet."

Paul glanced around the entryway, blushing slightly at all the eyes that were focused on his party as they made their way to the elevators. "Oh... it's fine, I guess."

Jason didn't miss Paul's focus, which was all the more obvious with how he closed up his response. "It's not fine, Paul, and you have a right to say so. I'll have a talk with JD tonight so he realizes that you aren't a threat and aren't a bad guy... and you don't have to worry so much about what random strangers think about you."

Paul straightened up when he realized that Jason HAD noticed. "I didn't-- I'm not-- I--- I mean... I don't--"

Jason's hand didn't move from Paul's shoulder. "People that sit in hotel lobbies like to people-watch... it doesn't matter if you're a gay man with a Dog boyfriend or a ten foot tall polka-dotted, one eyed tentacle monster; they'll look at you either way."

Clearing his throat, Paul stepped up beside Tanner; the Shepherd always made him feel better. "I haven't been a tentacle monster since the last full moon."

Although his comment was taken out of context the two Dogs were easily able to tell that it was humor... after a fashion. Tanner took hold of Paul's outstretched hand and gave it a gentle squeeze; JD just rolled his eyes before glancing to Jason. "Dunno where you find these guys, Jay... but every time we're out covering a story I know it'll be anything but boring."

The two Dogs and Jason continued chatting inside the elevator all the way up to the eighth floor and Paul was content to just remain quiet and listen. He really did admire the way that Jason seemed to handle interpersonal communication as easily as if everyone in the world were his friend. Then again, he reminded himself, everyone in the elevator knew each other except for him. That realization had him squeezing Tanner's paw just a little tighter.

Once on the eighth floor it was a very easy trip to the room. Exactly as the man at the front desk had stated, room 819 was left down the hall... and several dozen yards. Jason slid his keycard across the scanner and the red light atop it turned green. Opening the door he set all of his luggage down and went straight to the closest bed. Almost as if he were a little child leaping off of a floor of lava, Jason made a graceful swan dive into the bedspread and landed face first. Paul was a little disquieted by the odd display but JD put the issue to rest, dropping his own things by the doorway as he pushed past. "It's Jason's thing. Deal with it."

The Terrier's tail wagged happily back and forth as he strolled into the room and pushed the bathroom door open. Paul had no idea that such a huge Dog would be capable of making such a puppy-like sound, but JD literally bounded off the ground in surprise and stumbled over himself trying to get into the bathroom. Now out of view, Paul lost track of the large Dog's antics save the sound of toe claws scrambling across linoleum followed by a loud *THUD* and a select few curses.

Jason slid off the bed as he glanced toward the open bathroom door. "Everything okay in there, JD?"

The Terrier emerged from the bathroom like an explosion, arms waving wildly, tail spinning faster than a desk fan as he blathered on and on about a hot tub. Paul shifted uneasily from foot to foot as he tried to explain. "I... uh... this is a silver suite... it comes with a hot tub in the bathroom."

Paul was suddenly feeling very small as both of JD's eyes bore into him with an intensity he had never seen. He was almost certain there were tears welling up in them. The Terrier was towering over him before declaring "I've never been in a hotel room with its own hot tub before..."

Jason smiled, laughing as JD picked Paul up into a huge, rib-crushing, breath-stealing bear hug of utter bliss. "So I take it you finally approve of Paul?"

The Terrier set Paul down just as the Human's vision started going black at the edges. "Fuckin' A, Jay! Sure! Let's keep 'em!"

The Lead Crown: Ch 9.4c, Legacy

Tranquil Waters: The Lead Crown Ch 9.4, Legacy Roland was glad for many reasons when Alvis parted ways with him. True, over the past few weeks he had come to respect and appreciate the scholar-in-training in ways he might never have if the Albatross...

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The Lead Crown: Ch 9.4b, Shock and Awe

Tranquil Waters: The Lead Crown Ch 9.4, Shock and Awe Aodhan and Sister Aurelie did not have long for goodbyes; the conflict in the Church did not wait for them and nor did the Bishop's men delay in their duty to deliver the Sisters Divine to the...

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The Lead Crown: Ch 9.4a, Accountability

Tranquil Waters: The Lead Crown Ch 9.4, Accountability Despite arriving at Graddin safely Kesst still couldn't help but feel that traveling afield from Newport took him further away from his goals. He knew that Wiesen wanted him to stay close to...

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