QAF FanFic by Morpheus

When It Sizzles
A Post-Season 5 Story in Three Parts

I love Paris in the springtime,
I love Paris in the fall,
I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles,
I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles.
I love Paris every moment, every moment of the year.
I love Paris - why, oh why, do I love Paris?
Because my love is near.
                -- Words and music by Cole Porter



PART TWO February 2008


Brian

Ive been to San Francisco a few times on business and naturally I always make time to drop into one or two bars in the Castro to check out the local talent.  This trip is brief however, just a midweek overnighter to make an initial proposal on spec, so theres not much time for tricking. 

A glance through the Damron guide sent me first to the Midnight Sun, a bar supposedly renowned for its cruisability.  Id done a quick glance around the place and discovered that the clientele at least those out on a Thursday night are cookie-cutter boys:  attractive but disappointingly mundane, all twenty-somethings in snug tee-shirts and skin-tight jeans.  Without even stopping long enough to order a drink, Im back outside, checking out other establishments along the street for something a little different. 

Stopping to light a cigarette, I catch the eye of a likely prospect walking back the way I came.  Turning as he passes, I watch as he enters the same bar Ive just exited.  He pauses in the doorway to look back at me and though he makes no gesture, I know that hes interested.  Hes dressed a bit more imaginatively than the guys I saw inside, a long gray cashmere coat unbuttoned over a red v-neck sweater and gray slacks, nicely fitted but not so tight as to advertise the size of his cock.

In my quest for a nice tight ass or talented willing mouth, Im not sure why I give a fuck what a man is wearing; but I refuse to waste time questioning why Ive apparently grown tired of look-alike clones.  Surely Im not tired of tricking, that can never get old.  Its my lifes work, alongside creating a successful business and completing the purchase of my building.  The sale of the house in West Virginia provided funds to buy the second and third floors.  Its only a matter of time till the ground-floor tenant gives in to my determination to purchase his apartment.

Flicking away thoughts of home along with my half-finished cigarette, I leisurely follow the red-sweatered man, heading back into the Midnight Sun.  Unsurprisingly, hes posted himself just inside the door, leaning against the end of the bar, watching the entrance.  When I walk toward him, he nods his head and gives me a lopsided smile.  Hes a looker, absolutely in my league.  Tall, nearly as tall as me, with shaggy black hair falling over his forehead, red lips and a square jaw, smooth-shaven but darkly shadowed.  Its not easy to judge his age, hes probably late-twenties or early thirties, looking fit but not over-muscled; not a gym-bunny, thank god, thats another clone affectation that bores me.

Hey, I address him casually, not returning his smile but showing interest with my eyes. 

Buy you a drink? he asks, straightening up at my approach, and though normally Id shake my head no and drag him off to the backroom, I find myself nodding my head yes and moving closer to stand next to him at the bar. 

JB, I say, and when he turns to get the bartenders attention, I have a moment to study him more closely.  Proximity does not detract from his good looks; his profile is masculine but with smooth eyebrows and long thick eyelashes that soften his features.  He turns to catch me checking him out and he chuffs a brief laugh, seeming almost self-conscious.  Which is ridiculous, of course he must know how attractive he is.

I havent seen you here before, is his opening gambit.  New in town?

Business trip, I acknowledge, immediately regretting the acceptance of a drink.  Im just looking for a quick fuck, Im not here to socialize with the locals.

Lets sit, shall we? he raises eyebrows at me, gesturing toward a table thats become empty.  I pause for a moment, then shrug and give in.  Its early evening, I guess I can spare a few minutes for some pre-fuck niceties.  The man grabs our glasses just delivered by the bartender and precedes me to the table; we sit down in adjacent captains chairs, raise our glasses and clink them together briefly before taking a drink.

Im Max DAntoni, he introduces himself, and almost begrudgingly I accept the hand hes extended, shake it and reply, Brian Kinney.

Where are you from, Brian?

I hesitate, almost saying, Fuck this, Im just looking for a little action in the backroom; lead the way.  But I dont say it.  Instead I realize that Im relaxing back in the chair, stretching out my legs and unbuttoning my top coat.  Im from Pittsburgh, I hear myself answer.  Im downright fucking chatting with my erstwhile trick.  You from Frisco?

Oh man, Max rolls his eyes, Dont dare call it Frisco, youll be drawn and quartered by the natives, they consider that an insult.  And no, Im not from The City originally, hardly anybody in California was actually born here.  I moved from Denver a year ago when I got a job offer I couldnt refuse.

For some reason I want to hear about his job, so I nod my head at him to go on, as if Im actually interested. 

Im an architect, Max tells me, leaning forward in his chair.  Elbows planted on the table, he says with a disarming grin, Actually, Im kind of an entry-level architect right now, Ive just got my foot inside the door, but Im working my way up.  Im at Massey & Massey, he proclaims enthusiastically, Theyre the premiere architectural firm in San Francisco!

What I want to do is curl my lip in derision at his eagerness.  The only enthusiasm Ive ever been able to tolerate used to come from a young blond artist formerly of Pittsburgh and now residing in the City of Light. 

Yet I dont deride Max; instead I feel my face soften and I realize that Im smiling back at him.  Thats great, I say, surprising myself with the sound of sincerity in my voice.  Where did I misplace my usual cynicism?

Were moving into new offices soon, on the top floors of the Samson Towers downtown, Max goes on, Do you know the building?  Its a landmark in San Francisco.  I helped with preliminary plans for expanding the office, and Massey Junior actually singled me out for praise today.  He said -   Max glances at me and his voice stutters to a stop.  Im sorry, he says quickly; his face is red, can he really be blushing?  This is boring you cant possibly be interested.

No, its not boring, I contradict, wondering why Im perjuring myself.  I really was getting bored and apparently I was letting it show on my face.  Justin always used to chastise me for what he called facial fascism, the way I can intimidate and silence long-winded assholes with a single withering glance. 

But Max is not an asshole, hes just a guy whos excited about his job.  And Im being a dick.

Ive never heard of Samson Towers, why is it a landmark? I ask, raising my glass for another sip of bourbon and looking over the rim at Max.

We dont have to talk about it, he shakes his head; crossing his arms over his chest.  His body language tells me that he got my message of ennui loud and clear; so maybe he thinks Im just humoring him now.  I open my mouth to speak but he hurries on, I should have realized that you were just out cruising tonight.  Well, he admits then, shrugging his shoulders, Thats what I was doing myself.  I dont know why I was acting like, like -

Like we were friends? I suggest. 

Max just shrugs again and finishes his drink.  Theres a backroom here, he tells me, If youre still interested.  Hes acting blas but I can tell that hes embarrassed. 

The backroom is exactly what I had in mind, but instead of gesturing for Max to lead the way, I set down my own glass and shake my head.   How about we go back to my place?  My hotel, I mean.  Im staying at the Crowne Plaza.

Hesitating only a moment, Max then nods and stands up.  Union Square?  The streetcar goes directly to Powell, its just a couple blocks walk from there.

Yes, but lets take a taxi, if we can find one. 

Max nods again and leads the way out of the bar and we make our way in silence around the corner onto Castro Street, whre we wait for a cab to appear.  In a few minutes one comes along and I gesture for Max to precede me into the taxi and give directions to the driver.  We still dont speak when we reach the hotel.  After we enter the empty elevator and the doors close, I turn toward Max, reach out my hand and squeeze his shoulder.  Im glad you came back with me, I say, and Im rewarded when I feel his shoulders relax and he gives me his lopsided smile. 

Me too, he agrees.


----------


Im surprised when I wake up in the morning to discover that last nights trick is still asleep in my bed.  Whats even more surprising is that I remember his name.  I lie there staring at his profile for a moment, thinking about last nights really great fuck.  Suddenly he opens his eyes and stares back at me; we both jump slightly. 

Brian, he says, then he smiles slowly.  He must also be remembering our fuck.  Good morning.

Hmm. 

I dont want to face a morning goodbye scene; thats the main reason I never let guys sleep over.  So briskly I turn away and climb out of bed, heading for the bathroom.  After pissing, I turn on the shower full blast and climb in.  Im hoping the guy (okay Max, so I remember his name, that means nothing), Im hoping that Max will get dressed and leave before I come out of the bathroom.

Yet Im not really surprised when I hear the bathroom door open and Im aware that Max is standing outside the billowing white shower curtain.  If I ignore him, maybe hell get the message and disappear. 

Knock-knock, he says.  Christ, I hate when people say knock-knock. 

Jerking open the shower curtain, I prepare to give Max another one of my famously evil fuck-off glances.  This time Ill let him get the message.

But when I see him standing there, beautifully naked, one hand casually resting on his cock and the other trying to smooth down a case of crazy bed-head that rivals my own, I lose my desire to unceremoniously kick him out the door.  Come in, I offer.  Inwardly scolding myself for prolonging the inevitable kiss-off, outwardly I welcome Max into the tub, and a tiny eager gasp escapes my lips as he drops to his knees on the slippery porcelain and takes my already tumescent cock into his really very talented mouth.

After Maxs superlative shower blow-job, it seems churlish not to invite him to stay for breakfast, which we order from hotel room-service.  With only minor encouragement, Max tells me more about his job.  He says that its fantastic to work in a city where being gay is practically an advantage, and the specter of discrimination isnt constantly hanging over your head.  I find myself telling him some of my own experiences with Marty Ryder and Gardner Vance. 

Before I know it were laughing together, and I even let him borrow my razor so he can shave before getting dressed and heading off to work.  He says that today is business casual Friday, so he doesnt need to rush home and change into a suit, he can wear the clothes he had on last night.  I hold the cashmere coat as he slips his arms into the sleeves and I get a look at the label Armani, no wonder I like it.  Max must make a good salary to afford designer labels at his age.

Hes twenty-nine.  And holding, hed adds with a grin when he tells me his age. 

I held onto twenty-nine for a while myself, I admit, and we laugh together.  I never discuss my age with anyone, so Im surprised when I admit to Max that Im thirty-eight.

Perfect age for a man, he insists, grabbing hold of my hands and squeezing them as he leans forward to plant a small kiss on my lips before going out the door.  Young enough to still be gorgeous, but old enough to be past the age of heartbreak.

I feel my smile falter but I nod agreeably.  We say goodbye, and I watch as Max moves down the hall and gets into the elevator.  He waves just before the doors close, and without thinking, I raise my hand and wave back at him.

Feeling foolish and already regretting whatever impulse caused me to indulge in what could only be called an uncharacteristically sentimental one-night stand with a beautiful and downright fucking nice man, I close the door of my room and grab my suitcase, throw it onto the bed and begin to pack.

In a way Im surprised that Max didnt ask me to call him next time Im in town.  I had mentally braced myself for the inevitable discomfort when I would, of course, have refused.  He didnt ask, but it soon becomes clear that he didnt let me off the hook so easily.  I discover that at some point, Max had scribbled his name and phone number on a hotel envelope and hed folded it and shoved it into the pocket of my top coat hanging in the closet.

For a moment I stand with the paper in my hands, staring at it.  Swallowing an unaccountable lump in my throat, I murmur, No.  More loudly I insist to myself, No!  Then I crumple the paper and throw it into the wastebasket, before hurriedly finishing packing, shrugging on my coat, and heading out the door to catch the morning flight to Pittsburgh.

--------

A week later Im back in San Francisco.  The client I propositioned on spec, Marshalls Culinary Supplies, is enthusiastic and insists on paying my airfare, first class, to return to the city and discuss my campaign ideas with VP Jim Cassidy.  I arrive early Wednesday morning, and while Im waiting in the reception area for my appointment, I stand staring at a map of San Franciscos financial district mounted on the wall.  Without any effort whatsoever, I locate Samson Towers, apparently just a stones throw from here.  Immediately I flick my eyes away from the map and glance around the room for something to distract me.  Luckily the receptionist calls my name and leads me down the hall to Cassidys office.

Im finished by eleven, a tentative agreement drawn up and another meeting, lunch with Marshalls top brass, scheduled for the next day at noon.  So Im left to cool my heels in San Francisco for the rest of the day.  When I exit the building, I make a sharp left turn to ensure that Im heading off in the opposite direction from Samson Towers.  Briskly walking through the financial district, the streets mostly in shadow from soaring skyscrapers on every corner, eventually I find my way to the waterfront, and I follow the sidewalk that passes the piers until I reach Pier 39, a touristy conglomeration of shops and restaurants.

Im hungry and I succumb to the enticing smell of seafood, climbing steep wooden stairs to a second floor and treating myself to a decent crab sandwich in one of the nicer restaurants, where Im seated at an outdoor table under an umbrella with a view over San Francisco Bay.  When Im finished, I go back downstairs and walk out to the end of the pier, lean against the railing and watch sailboats ply the waters between the wharf and Alcatraz Prison on an island in the Bay.  With a deep sigh I congratulate myself on the willpower that prevented me from seeking out Samson Towers to search for a particularly handsome architect. 

So its with surprise akin to shock that I realize I have pulled out my cell phone and flipped it open.  Staring at it for only a few seconds, I shake my head in disbelief as I punch in the phone number that was scribbled on an envelope at the Crowne Plaza hotel last Friday by that same architect.  I threw the envelope away.  I have no idea how I remembered his phone number.  No idea at all.

Max comes directly from his office to my hotel room, hes wearing a beautiful charcoal gray Prada suit which I barely acknowledge before Ive stripped it off him.  His cock is hard before Ive even removed his shirt, his hands are shaking with eagerness as he fumbles with my belt, with the buttons on my shirt.  Its fucking exciting as hell to realize that hes even more eager than I am myself for this second time together. 

This second and final time.

Id halfway expected that the memorable fuck wed shared last week might have been created in my imagination during those odd moments the past week when I recalled the time we spent together.  But the truth is, there has never been a man Ive been so eager to fuck a second time since. . . 

For a long time.  For a very long time.

When Max asks me to extend my trip, to stay for the weekend, at first I refuse.  Theres business to take care of in Pittsburgh, Ive been invited to dinner with Debbie and Carl on Saturday, theres a million things I should be doing at the loft.  But finally I give in to Maxs entreaties.  He wants me to see his apartment, he wants to show me some of the tourist sites of this beautiful city, and eventually I realize that I do want to stay, I do want to spend more time with him.  Which naturally should send up all kinds of warning flares.  And it does, of course it does, but I ignore them.

The long weekend in San Francisco is a revelation.  It seems like I have forgotten what its like to just kick back and relax.  To spend time talking with someone and actually caring what they have to say.  To really enjoy going out dancing, just to have fun, not merely to get loaded and fuck my brains out.

The truth is, I didnt realize until now how fucking lonely Ive become.  At heart I am a solitary man.  Or I was, before Justin came along and messed up my well-ordered life.  When he left for New York with my blessing!  and with my encouragement, of course somehow all the joy went out of living.  It didnt help that Michael and I had finally grown apart, and that Lindsay moved away with my son, but I could have weathered all that, if only Id still had Justin.  He had become, completely and totally against my will, the center of the universe.

Im still an over-achiever, Ill always be one.  I still haunt Babylon, still maintain my business and personal reputations as a killer, still walk around with my head held high.  And I still feel satisfaction at my own success.  But ultimately at the end of the day, my life seems empty, hollow.  Meaningless.

I havent seen Justin for a couple months, and its possible that I will never see him again.  As his achievements take him farther and farther from Pittsburgh, any hope I had that things would ever be the same again have gradually faded away.  Hes settled in Paris now, and though I visited him once at Christmas, the trip was brief and it seemed to me that he was preoccupied, that maybe he was so caught up in his new life that I was becoming merely an unwelcome distraction.  He didnt say so, but then he wouldnt, would he?  In fact he has asked me to visit him again this spring, but Ive pleaded work deadlines and other commitments.

I have made up my mind that its time to cut Justin loose, once and for all.  For his own good.  Its time to set him free to pursue his own course without any backward glances.  That isnt so easy to do as it ought to be.  I should know, Ive tried it several times already, and always circumstances (and Justins single-minded determination) have brought us back together again. 

But now I am convinced that this time around, Justin wont make the effort; that he is ready to become a solitary man himself.  Either that, or embark on a relationship with someone less complicated and difficult than myself.  I dont believe that Justin is truly happy.  Ive never been a man given to introspection, to self-analysis or, God forbid, self-pity.  So it took awhile before I became aware of how deeply, deeply unhappy I have become.  And then I realized that maybe Justin feels the same way, and he just cant find the words to tell me.

It actually took meeting Max, getting to know him, before I realized how much has been missing in my life.  Business trips bring me back again and again to California.  Its just business.  Thats what I tell myself.  But the truth is, by now I could delegate such work to Ted, to Cynthia, to others at Kinnetik.  Its Max who draws me back to San Francisco.

My longtime mantra, I dont believe in love, was turned into a lie a long time ago.  Even so, Ive continued to mouth that sentiment and use it as a weapon to keep other guys away.  And its always worked.  Almost always.  Max is only the second man in my life who has dared to call my bluff.

On the night Max says, Brian, I love you, we are stretched out on his bed sharing a cigarette.  Sex is good with him.  Nothing has ever come close to the amazing sex Ive shared with Justin, but even so, its better with Max than anyone else before or after that damned blond kid who fucked up my life forever.

It would be a lie to pretend that Im surprised by Maxs revelation.

I love you, Max says, stubbing out the cigarette and turning sideways in the bed to face me.  Before I can speak, if indeed I can think of anything to say, Max continues, Now look me in the eye, he commands, And swear that you dont love me too.

Immediately I answer, I dont love you, but my eyes slide quickly away from his face and I stare over his shoulder at the first rays of morning sunshine peeking in the window beside his bed.

The truth, Brian.

I return my eyes to his face.  I dont want to love you.  And I wont.  Thats the truth.

Max sighs.  Already hes getting used to my pigheadedness.  Brian, he says, Since weve been seeing each other so often now, Ive just assumed that you are not in another relationship already.  Its a question but I dont answer it, just stare at him woodenly.

Brian, he tries again, Are you in another relationship?

Not really.  No.  No, Im not.

You dont sound too sure.

Im sure.

Max nods.  Okay.  You always refuse to talk about the past, but Ive assumed that somewhere along the line, somebody broke your heart.  And so maybe now youre afraid to fall in love again?

Im not afraid of anything, I contradict impatiently, turning to slide off the bed and stand up.  And hearts dont really break.  I thought you were too old for that fairytale bullshit?

My sneer doesnt faze him.  Tell me.

Im angry, Im pissed, Im prepared to storm out of Maxs apartment.  But I dont.  Instead I grab another cigarette and light up, take a few deep drags and exhale machine-gun bursts of smoke.  Then I sit down on the edge of the bed again and face him.

I did love somebody once, I finally admit.  But even though its over, he has a hold on me that nothing can break.  With a sigh at the melodrama of it all, I add quietly, I wont ever love anyone again. 

Dont you want to love me, Brian? 

I look at Maxs face and I feel a wrenching deep in my chest.  The simple answer is yes but the reality is more complicated.  It has suddenly occurred to me that you cannot love somebody just because maybe you want to.  Just because maybe they deserve to be loved.  I look into his eyes and I know exactly how dishonest I have been.  I have been using Max to fill the void in my life, but I have nothing to give him in return.

My famous line, I dont believe in love, has become a joke, has become a lie.  I do believe in love.  Yet I can never love anyone but Justin.

I dont have the words to explain all this.  Instead I repeat, I wont ever love anyone again.

Max stares at me without speaking for a moment.  He swallows twice, and then he whispers, Wont you give it some more time, Brian?  Wont you please just give us a chance?