Len shivers at first. The strokes of the brush tickle and the paint is cold, and laying naked on his tummy like this is a whole new kind of vulnerability. Jim is straddling the backs of his thighs and the weight should feel reassuring, but to be honest he feels a little bit like a trapped animal.
Jim’s eyes on him feel different; he’s still gazing at him like a lover, but now there’s this assessment underneath (or perhaps it has always been there and Len just hadn’t noticed). Len feels like he’s being sized up; he’s being splayed open, bare bones and flaws on display. He loves Jim–he really, truly does–but when Jim is looking at him with this unadulterated affection in his eyes, Len has to swallow back the lump in his throat and look away before the butterflies explode out of him.
Another swipe of the paintbrush has a giggle leaving him in a rush; Jim smacks his bare ass, smiles a toothy smile even though Len can’t see, and warns him to behave.
The emotions of the moment are defused further when Len grumbles, “These linens are white–you better not drip any paint on them.”
“They’ll wash,” is all Jim says in reply.
There’s not much talking after that. The only sounds in the room are rustling sheets, soft breaths, and the distant patter of rain on the windows.
Jim has his tongue poking out from between plush, pink lips as he paints across the expanse of Len’s freckle-littered skin. Yellow as bright as a newly bloomed dandelion on a summer morning. Shades of blue, ranging from as deep as a brilliant sapphire to as light as the palest of morning skies. White as pure as snow. Greens that glitter on top of ocean waves. Black as dark as a night sky with no stars. Purples that flit like a hummingbird from flower to flower. Red and orange that burn as bright as fire.
It feels strange, to be under Jim’s hands like this. There’s no reason for it to be any different than when they make love, but it is and Len can’t help but squirm. He feels like he’s under a microscope and it’s uncomfortable.
“Bones,” Jim sighs, exasperated. “Will you stop your movin’?”
“Then quit lookin’ at me like that.”
Len tries to get up and turn around to have this conversation with Jim face-to-face, but Jim pushes him back down. “Like one of those pieces that hangs in a museum to be gawked at.”
An amused sound escapes Jim before he can stop it. “You’re more beautiful than anything hanging in The Louvre. And,” he says, punctuating his words by tapping the thin handle of his paintbrush lightly against Len’s side, “if you think I’d let anyone gawk at you… I’m selfish and you’re mine, Bones, I’m keeping this view all to myself.”
Len flushes at that. He falls silent and allows Jim to concentrate on finishing whatever has been painted on his back.
It only takes a couple of minutes before Jim is bounding away, yelling hold still! over his shoulder as he runs for the camera.
Jim is back just as quick as he had disappeared, landing with an oof! on the bed.
The mechanical clicking lets Len know Jim got a fair amount of pictures from who knows what angles, and he takes initiative and sits up.
Jim just smiles and hands him the digital camera so he can look at the pictures instead of awkwardly maneuvering to see his back in the bathroom mirror.
Len hadn’t had any idea what Jim had been painting, wasn’t even sure what he had expected to see, but it sure wasn’t this. There was no other word for it–on his back stretched the universe. Colorful planets, a swirling galaxy; Jim had even made it look like the stars were really shining.
Len’s breath catches in his throat. “It’s beautiful, Jim.”
And Len knows he means it.