Today’s prompt comes to you from Karlijin, who wanted to know when Jack and Ethan’s birthdays were and what they would have done for each other. Enjoy!
Jack had a secret.
Ethan always knew when Jack was up to something. When he got mischievous, when his smiles lingered a little too long or spread a little too wide. When he had that light in his eyes, the ‘I’ve got a secret’ light that dared Ethan to get it out of him.
He could, if he tried. He’d gotten Jack to spill the name of his teddy bear when he was a child while they were flying to New York once. Interrogation by delirious pleasure, using nothing but his hands, his lips, and his tongue.
So, whatever Jack was up to, he wasn’t being terribly sneaky about it, and he wouldn’t mind if Ethan wheedled it out of him.
But Ethan didn’t want to. Not this time.
His birthday was this weekend, and if Jack wanted to surprise him, he was fine with that.
When he landed, Scott picked him up at the airport and whisked him away, leaving the hounding media in the dust. Jack texted him all the way to the White House, asking for updates on where he was, at what intersection, and when he’d be arriving. How many more minutes?
Scott looked like the fox that ate the hen when he dropped Ethan off, all bright eyes and a smothered smile. “See you Sunday,” he grunted, waving as he sped off.
Come on up.
Ethan couldn’t resist teasing. [You’re not coming down to meet me?]
I’m waiting upstairs for you. I’ve got a surprise. Come on! 🙂
At the elevator, Beech and Hanier didn’t even try to hide their grins. They stared at him, chuckling softly to themselves. Everyone knew something, it seemed. He felt his blush crawl up the back of his neck.
Just before the elevator doors closed to take him up to the Residence, Beech leaned in. “Happy birthday, sir.”
He sighed, but smiled and shook his head. Jack… Whatever it was he’d planned, it was big enough that at least the Secret Service knew about it. Who else? A sudden fear gripped him, and he groaned. God, please not a sky writer. Please, let Jack not have talked to Scott. He’d hired one for Scott’s fortieth, scrawling the skies over DC with “Happy Fortieth Scott Collard.” If there was ever a day that Scott would have killed him, it would have been then.
Jack wouldn’t do that, though. Right?
Of course he would.
The elevator doors dinged and slid open.
The lights were down and the hallway was dim. Ethan stepped out slowly, peering around.
A rose petal crushed beneath his shoe, into the carpet.
A trail of rose petals stretched down the hall, scattered over the carpet. Deep ruby red, pure white, butter yellow, sunset orange, kissed-lip pink. Almost the colors of the rainbow, leading him down the hall in a lush, fragrant trail to Jack’s bedroom. He plucked a petal from the floor, plump and flush with color, and inhaled the garnet bloom. Crisp and clear, like a summer’s day in the Rose Garden. Where Jack had gotten this many roses in November, he didn’t know.
Grinning, he pushed open Jack’s bedroom door.
Flickering candlelight caught his eyes first. He guessed fifty, eighty, no, a hundred or more candles, all spread across the bedroom. On Jack’s desk, his dresser, the coffee table. The mantle, the bedside tables. Scattered in groups on the carpet, balanced on mirrors that reflected the flame against the walls and the ceiling. A soft glow encased the room, warm and gentle. More rose petals lay on the floor, rich rubies and snow white blooms.
Slowly, his gaze lifted.
In the center of the bed, on his side, Jack lay in a sea of petals, completely naked save for a red silk ribbon tied in a bow around his hips.
He was obviously very glad to see Ethan.
“Happy birthday.” Jack beamed, almost vibrating with his own happiness. “Come open your present.”
* * *
The next morning, Jack searched on his phone for how to get melted candle wax off of cream carpet and American heirlooms, and Ethan plucked rose petals off almost every inch of his skin.
Jack insisted on making breakfast for Ethan, a reversal of their roles. Jack wasn’t incompetent when it came to the kitchen, but he’d never really mastered the art and science of cooking. Simple meals were his forte, with an easy default to ordering out. Ethan showed him a thing or two while they dated, mixing cooking and flirtation as he dropped kisses to Jack’s neck and he pressed his hips against Jack’s ass while trying to teach him how to sauté, how to flash fry, and how to grill to perfection.
More than one meal ended up burned, but Jack just reached for the takeout menu after.
Ethan tried to flirt with Jack while he made breakfast, a dish of peaches and cream stuffed French toast, something he’d seen online and wanted to try for Ethan. It was ambitious, and time consuming, and Ethan was hungry for something else. Jack cooked shirtless, and Ethan wanted more than to just watch the ply of his muscles along his back. He slid his hands around Jack’s waist and kissed his shoulders.
Jack beat his knuckles with the spatula. “Back! I’m not ruining this! This is for you.”
Laughing, Ethan tried to play with Jack’s nipples, tried to thumb over one of the hard nubs.
Jack almost wilted, melting back into Ethan’s arms.
A buzzer went off, and Jack straightened. He turned and waved the spatula in Ethan’s face, pretending to wallop him as he laughed. “I’m going to make this for you, even if I have to banish you to the corner.”
Ethan pouted. “Can I at least eat it off of you?” He tried for a consolation prize.
Jack looked thoughtful. “After it’s cooled.” He winked.
* * *
They drank champagne and lounged on the Truman Balcony that night, enjoying the last of DC’s autumn nights. The air was crisp, but not cold, just enough to encourage them to share one lounger and cuddle close.
Jack got tipsy off champagne faster than he did anything else. Ethan loved it, loved how Jack got handsy and giggled. How his eyes brightened and he wanted to be to oh-so-close to Ethan, kiss him and never let go. They laughed and made out like high schoolers until it got too cold to take any more clothes off outside.
* * *
Sunday morning, Jack gave Ethan his birthday present: Half of his closet and half of his dresser, cleared out for Ethan’s things. Some of his clothes had already appeared. Things he used to keep in Horsepower, suits from when he stayed the night with Jack, or stuff that Scott would have known to grab from his condo.
It had only been a month since Ethan had transferred to Iowa and they had publicly started dating. He only saw Jack on the weekends, but still. Having Jack clear out space for him in the White House, and seeing his things hanging side by side with Jack’s, made it feel like more, somehow. It wasn’t just the weekends, and just something they kept hidden, secreted away from the world. It was something real.
Forty-one years old, and he’d finally found love.
* * *
Like a curse, his birthday always fell on the crappiest day of the year. Snow, sleet, ice, or rain never failed to drown out the day, or in this years’ case, the weekend. February, the heart of winter. And, in DC, winter bit hard.
Earlier in the week, Jack had made an executive decision, and he brought it up with Ethan during their Skype call. “So, did you bring your bathing suit to Iowa?”
Ethan frowned. “I did…” he said slowly. He blushed. “Sometimes I tan with it.”
Jack grinned. Ethan, he’d learned, had a self-conscious streak, a shyness about his appearance that came out at the oddest times. “Good. Cause we’re going to Hawaii. This weekend.”
Ethan’s eyes went wide. “This weekend? For your birthday?”
“I don’t want to be stuck in DC, in the sleet, on my birthday. I want to be with you, rolling in the sand. Playing golf. Drinking Mai Tais and having crazy sex.” He laughed as Ethan’s blush deepened. “So, I booked a trip. Air Force One will pick you up in Des Moines on Friday. We’ll be on the beach before dinner. Back before Monday. Is that okay?”
Ethan nodded. “I can get on board with that.” A moment later, his smile faded, and he bit his lip. “I should probably buy a new suit,” he said. “I’m not sure the one I have is… presidential.”
“Oh?” Jack’s eyebrows climbed his forehead. “What makes you say this?”
“It’s… small. Very small.”
Ethan barked out a laugh and shook his head. “I’m glad you think so. But what will the press say?”
Jack shrugged, his devil-may-care smile plastered on his face. “They’ll probably be jealous. It will be great. You should definitely wear it. Don’t buy anything new.”
“I should at least try and match you, or be somewhat close to your style. What’s your suit like?”
“Boring.” Jack sighed. “Basic black nylon shorts and an elastic waistband.”
“Why don’t you pick a new one out for me?” Jack winked at Ethan. “So we can match.”
Ethan looked torn. Half of him looked like he wanted to sigh and bury his head in his hands, and the other half seemed to want to sit up and dive right in. He was torn between a grin and a helpless grimace, shaking his head and laughing at Jack.
“Come on, it will be fun. And you know I need some fashion updating. I don’t want to look stupid next to you.”
“You never look stupid.”
“I want to look half as hot as you, then. Just half.”
“You’re way more than half. You’re, God, Jack, you’re—“ Ethan sputtered, his cheeks crimson. “You’re so much hotter than me.”
“No way.” Jack winked. “Let’s do this. It will be great.
“I… would need measurements,” Ethan finally said. “Stand up. Turn around. Let me see.”
Throwing his head back, Jack laughed hard, his whole body shaking. But, he played along, standing and turning in front of his laptop and pushing his clothed ass into the camera. “Like this?”
“Yeah. Now, grab hold. I need to see how big—“ Ethan’s voice cut out as Jack gripped his own ass cheeks and winked over his shoulder. “Just like that,” Ethan said, his voice strangled. “That’s good. You can sit down.”
“You sure?” Jacks hands roamed, squeezing and pressing and gripping over himself. “I mean, I can do more—“
* * *
Ethan jogged up the steps of Air Force One on the tarmac in Des Moines holding a small, flat box wrapped in birthday paper. He said his hellos to the Secret Service agents, to Scott, and to the few staffers that tagged along with Jack no matter where he went. This was personal time, though, so most of Jack’s staff had stayed behind.
Jack waited for him, leaning one shoulder against the wall outside his cabin. He’d already ditched his suit jacket and tie, and his button down was loose and undone at the neck. Beaming, Jack waited for Ethan to come close before drawing him in and kissing him on the lips.
“Happy Birthday Jack.” Ethan kissed his nose, his lips, and handed the box over.
The rest of the staff melted away, and it was just the two of them in the hallway as the plane’s engines spun up, readying for their taxi. Jack held Ethan’s gaze, watching as Ethan’s cheeks flushed while he tore open the wrapping paper.
Inside the box, a pair of baby blue swim squares lay. All told, the swim squares had less than half the fabric of his old swimsuit. Way less. It was a bold choice in swimwear. A choice for a man made of confidence. He was on the wrong side of forty, the wrong side of forty-five, even, and though he was in better shape now than he’d ever been in his life, it still was rather daring. His gaze flicked back to Ethan.
Ethan grinned wide. “You wanted them.”
“I did.” Jack chuckled. “I just thought they’d be larger than a tissue.”
Slowly, Ethan shook his head.
The pilot’s voice came over the loudspeaker, instructing everyone to take their seats in preparation for takeoff. They headed into Jack’s cabin and went straight to his stateroom. Jack already had his hands on Ethan’s coat, peeling it off him.
“How many hours on this flight?” Ethan turned and kissed Jack’s neck.
“Six.” Jack’s hands slid up Ethan’s back, tugging his shirt from his pants. “I intend to use them.”
Ethan chuckled, kissing his way down Jack’s neck and across his collarbone.
“But first.” Jack pushed Ethan back, gently. “I want to see you in your little swim squares.”
* * *
When they got to the resort, they put on shorts and t-shirts and walked on the beach, watching the sun fall below the waves before turning in for a private dinner. Jack happily groaned his way through the rest of the evening, rubbing his belly in contentment as Ethan snorted at him. They fell asleep listening to the waves and watching the stars, and trading kisses until they fell asleep with their lips still pressed together.
* * *
A morning round of golf was first on the agenda. Scott offered to be their caddy driver, and he shuttled them around the private links as Jack and Ethan sipped mimosas and played a fair to terrible game of golf. Jack got progressively worse as the champagne hit him, and Ethan had never been good to begin with.
“Golf is a politician’s sport,” he grumbled, watching his shot slice hard to the right, deep into the rough. “I’m terrible.”
Jack grinned. “I could give you some pointers.” If Ethan was paying attention, he’d catch the way his voice lilted, the sway of his hips.
Ethan was still grumbling about his last shot. He didn’t pay attention to Jack’s mischief at all. “If you think you can help this train wreck, go for it.”
“Show me how you line up to shoot.”
Ethan planted his feet in front of the ball. Jack moved in behind him. He stood close, hips pressed against Ethan’s ass, and wrapped his arms around Ethan’s. Slowly, he pressed his whole body flush to Ethan, rocking into him from his thighs to his ass. His hands covered Ethan’s on the golf club, and squeezed. Beneath him, Ethan stiffened.
He knew he’d been had. Jack grinned, ducking his face into Ethan’s shoulder.
“It’s all about the hips, dear,” he purred into Ethan’s ear. “You need to swing with your hips. Sway.” He rocked his hips into Ethan’s, slowly. “Twist. From one side to the other. And then—“ He gasped, and rested his chin on Ethan’s shoulder. “You need to take your club, grip it firmly, and bring it down. Bring it home, right into the ball. A sweet slide, and a smooth glide.”
“Fuck…” Ethan hissed. His body vibrated beneath Jack’s. “What the hell are we talking about?”
“Your golf game,” Jack said brightly, stepping back. “Go on, give it another swing.”
Ethan glared at him. “If I swing right now, I’ll kill myself.”
“Well then, why don’t we practice putting?” Jack ditched his club and came back behind Ethan, sliding close and wrapping his arms around him again. His hands stroked over Ethan’s, down his club, and gripped the shaft. “It can be slower paced, but there’s a lot of finesse in those little strokes,” he purred into Ethan’s ear.
Somewhere, Jack heard Scott’s laughter, but it was so far away, and Ethan was right there, trembling and breathing fast.
“Why don’t I show you?”
* * *
After golf, they detoured back to the resort for an hour or three, and finally hit the beach in the afternoon. Jack wore his baby blue swim squares, and Ethan wore a matching pair of white ones. Scott averted his eyes when they slipped out of the resort and headed down the private sand, carrying their towels and deep blushes.
“You know this is already on the internet.”
Jack shrugged. He beamed at Ethan from behind his shades. “It’s worth it. And I was right, by the way.”
“You do look very hot in those.” He leaned in and kissed Ethan, a gentle peck, and started for the water.
He heard Ethan behind him, the slapping footfalls, the running in the sand. Turning, he tried to fend Ethan off, but Ethan grabbed him low and hefted him over his shoulder, and then ran pell-mell into the water. Jack shouted, laughing as he squirmed, until Ethan lost his footing and they went down together with a splash.
And then it was on, a game of wrestling and splashing mixed with kisses and groping until they ended up lying in the gentle surf, panting, laughing, and out of breath. As the waves tickled their shins, Jack rolled onto his side and draped himself over Ethan. “I love you, Ethan.”
Ethan reached for him, cradled his face, and kissed him, oh-so-slowly. Salt water dripped from their hair and sand clung to their bodies. Jack rolled his hips into Ethan’s thigh as their kiss deepened.
“We should take this inside,” Ethan breathed.
“I’m fine making out with you on the beach.”
“Yeah, but these swimsuits don’t leave anything to the imagination. We really don’t need headlines talking about ‘Eagle One’ and where it’s landing.”
And that was it for Jack. The sexiness, the sultry air vanished, popping like a balloon as he doubled over, howling into Ethan’s shoulder until his stomach cramped and he had to flop on his back on the sand, trying to catch his breath.
* * *
Later, Jack took his time with Ethan, making slow love to him through the night as the waves crashed beneath the resort and the stars winked overhead. In the morning, they stayed in bed, lazy and indolent, trading kisses and making love in the sunshine until the world forced them to rise.
* * *
Jack dropped Ethan off at Des Moines’s airport, back in the February gloom. They both came down off Air Force One, and Jack walked Ethan to his car, parked by the private military hanger on the airport.
“Happy Birthday, love.” Ethan kissed him, sweetly, and smiled. Kept back, away from the plane but close enough to have captured that kiss with a decent lens, were the press, eager for a glimpse of them both after the birthday weekend.
Jack grinned. Seemed Ethan didn’t care about the press seeing them, at least not then. He kissed Ethan back, and then again, and then a third time, just for good measure. Finally, he opened Ethan’s door for him, and then kissed him one last time before Ethan slid into the driver’s seat. “The best part about it was you being there. Thank you.”
Ethan got out of his car and leaned over the door, kissing him again. “Always, Jack. I’ll always be there.”
They kissed one last time, lingering in the moment, before Ethan finally got back into his car and drove away, and Jack clambered back up the steps of Air Force One.
Ethan: November, one month after transferring to Iowa and one month before Interlude.
Jack: February, Two months after Interlude and one month before Ethan moves back to the White House.
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Oh Lordy! *fanning myself while grinning like a loon* How deliciously romantic and funny this is! I love, love, LOVE everything about it! As expected, you hit this out of the park, Tal! If I could, I’d hug you for making me smile today! And you know I’ll be re-reading this! 🙂
Just one thing…is Ethan a Scorpio, like me? I mean, I’m not November, but I’ll take the zodiacal sign! That would be WAY cool! 🙂 And I’d like to think of Jack as an Aquarian…did a little reading on the sign, and it seems like it’s him, for the most part. Amnd according to one source, his best compatibility is with Scorpio (the other choice is a June-July person). So yeah…Scorpio and Aquarius! Delicious! *grinning like a loon still* 😛
I’m re-reading this and grinning all over again. Jack is so playful, so sexy, and every time Ethan forgets. So every time, Jack gets to undo him all over again. I love that about Jack…he’s a complex man, with a difficult job, who can still let the simple, loving, adorable side of him out to play. And Ethan needs that side of Jack, just as Jack needs the tough-guy, shoot-’em-in-the-heart guy that Ethan is. They complement each other beautifully. Because Jack manages to draw out the playful side of Ethan — that comment about Eagle One landing makes me absolutely fall out every time I read it! 😀 — and Ethan helps Jack to see why he is the best man for the job of POTUS. I just love this. They are absolutely the cutest together! 🙂
I really do love their playful sides. Most of the time, the stories I tell don’t get to show those sides off, but here, I get to be a bit more playful. One of my favorite playful moments was when Jack stole the props Ethan used at their lunch in Jack’s office, when Ethan was describing their security procedures before Prague. 🙂
Loved this SO much. So great to see them just having fun, and being happy and in love. <3
I don’t get a chance to write them so happy in the novels, so I love to take the opportunity to write so happy and in love in these Bytes. 🙂
I love It. Is so beautiful, i’m little bit jealous, is amazing the love theirs.
Tal I have that smile that cannot be contained while I comment. I love Jack and Ethan 🥰🥰