Geography For Beginners



Author's Notes:  Written for sra-black as part of LJ's 2007 qaf giftxchnge.  A million thanks to firehead 30 for guiding me through this one.  The heart in this fic belongs to her.




The diner’s noise and color melted away as Justin woke up, shaking with laughter into his pillow. He hadn’t woken up this way in a long time.

“What’s so funny?” Brian grumbled, squinting one eye open.

“You,” Justin said, laughing harder than ever. The expression on Brian’s face was nearly as comical as the one he’d worn in the dream. “You set your glove on fire lighting a cigarette, and Ted got ketchup all over you trying to put it out. You were dripping in it.”

Brian closed his eyes and smiled. It had been a while since he’d woken up to one of Justin’s zany dreams. He missed Justin laughing in the morning.


Brian opened his eyes again.

“It’s almost eleven,” Justin said, kicking off the comforter and wriggling free of Brian’s limbs. “We’ll be lucky if we’re there by three.”

There was Mason Gray’s beach house on Fire Island. They were supposed to have been there the day before, but Brian had convinced Justin to call and cancel. He hadn’t seen Justin in over a month, and he’d be damned if he was going to share him immediately upon arrival. Mason and his bacchanal could wait.

“Brian!” Justin called from the shower.

Brian took a last look around before getting up. Justin’s studio apartment was a far cry from the loft - noisy, cluttered, smelling perpetually of lamb thanks to the Iranian restaurant downstairs, and was that sheet metal in the corner? But lately, Brian had come to regard Justin’s space as a sanctuary of sorts. He smiled and shook his head. How the mighty had fallen.

“If you want hot water, you better come now!”

“And if I want a blow job?” Brian yelled back.

“My plumbing’s not that sophisticated,” Justin said, drawing back the curtain so Brian could join him.

“That’s where you’re very, very wrong.” Brian kissed the tip of Justin’s nose then nudged him to his knees.



After a quick breakfast, they walked to the parking garage where Brian kept his latest toy, a 1977 convertible Jaguar or as Justin liked to call it, the catmobile. By noon, they were on their way, top down and heading east under a canopy of June sky.

“How many times have you been to his house?”

“Three,” Justin said, eyes closed, face tipped skyward. The sun and wind felt good.

Mason was a well-known art collector who’d become one of Justin’s patrons soon after he’d arrived in New York. He threw frequent parties during the summer, and he’d always encouraged Justin to bring Brian along, but until now, work conflicts had prevented Brian from joining him.

“He try to fuck you yet?”

“No,” Justin said, smiling. “I know it’s hard for you to fathom, but he gets off by supporting young artists, not by fucking them. Although,” he added with a sly grin, “he does enjoy giving us a place to play.”

“How Socratic of him.”

“What?” Justin frowned momentarily then laughed. “Oh! You’re referring to pederasty of the chaste variety. I suppose you could make a case for it. You know,” he said casually, “some people might say, that, at its inception, our relationship was a type of pederasty.”

This was a subject Justin had long teased Brian with, and it never failed to get a rise out of him. Not because Brian necessarily disapproved of the ancient Greek tradition, but because it cast him in the role of older man.

When Brian didn’t answer, Justin dug deeper, “some people might even say that I was your kept boy.”

Some people would have their heads up their asses,” Brian said, finally taking the bait. “You were never anybody’s kept boy. What you were, was a conniving, scheming little shit that turned my life upside down.”

“Yes,” Justin said, tugging his seatbelt loose so he could slide over and kiss Brian’s cheek, “but I had an excuse.”

“What? A hard-on for me that wouldn’t quit?”

“That, and the fact that I was in love with you. But as I seem to recall, you had quite the hard-on for me too. In fact,” he said, squeezing the bulge between Brian’s legs, “you still do.”

The subtle increase in the car’s speed was all the reply Justin required and he settled back in his seat, smiling, and let the hum of the Jag’s engine sing him to sleep.

Three hours, a ferry crossing and a short cab ride later, and they were outside the gates to Mason’s estate. At Justin’s instruction, the cabbie pushed the button on the intercom and announced that Justin Taylor had arrived. Seconds later, the gates swung open.

“Nice spread,” Brian said as they drove up the shaded driveway.

“It is, isn’t it?” Justin said nonchalantly. He’d purposefully neglected to tell Brian about the opulence of the house, wanting it to be a surprise.

As they approached the end of the driveway, the trees gave way to gardens in a large, sunny courtyard complete with a decidedly erotic fountain.

Brian was circling the fountain, intent on figuring out exactly who was fucking whom when the front door opened. An Asian man, dressed all in black, stepped out to greet them. He was taller than Brian and powerfully built.

“Justin,” he said, bowing slightly.

“Hello, Katsuo,” Justin said, putting his hand on Katsuo’s arm. “It’s good to see you again. This is my partner, Brian Kinney.”

“Dozo yoroshiku,” Brian said with a slight head nod.

“The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Kinney,” Katsuo said smoothly before removing their luggage from the cab’s trunk.

He led them into the house and up a wide, stone staircase. As they followed, Brian took stock of his surroundings - the decor was a bit over the top, but the artwork was world-class.

“Mason has a good eye,” Brian said.

“One of my pieces is in the library,” Justin said.

“Which one?”

“One of the night people series. I don’t think you ever saw it.”

“You’ll have to show it to me before we leave.”

“Mason’s moved that piece into the bedroom,” Katsuo said. “I’d be happy to take you there later this evening.”

“I’m sure you would,” Brian said, ignoring Justin’s eye-roll.

At the third and top floor, Katsuo ushered them down a long hallway to the last set of doors on the right.

“The Emperor’s Suite,” he said, opening the double doors to their room.

Justin’s first impression was of light. Summer light filtered by sheers on two walls of windows, illuminating the room’s pale lemons and silvers, setting the silk and satin aglow.

Katsuo put their bags away and returned to the doorway. “We’ll see you at the pool party?”

“Definitely. Thanks, Katsuo,” Justin said.

Katsuo bowed slightly and closed the door behind him.

“What’s up with tall, dark and subservient?” Brian asked.

“Not so subservient. He’s one of New York’s top doms.”

“Must not be so good, if he’s moonlighting as a butler.”

“He’s not the butler,” Justin laughed, sitting down on a low divan to take off his sneakers. “He’s Mason’s partner of twenty-three years.”

“Well, well. The mystery deepens,” Brian said, sitting down and tugging Justin backwards until they were stretched out on the yellow velvet. “You know what’s not a mystery?”

“That you’re going to fellate and sodomize me?”

“You forgot repeatedly.”

“Throw in brutally and without mercy, and you’ll have me for life."

“I thought we established that years ago,” Brian said, combing the hair back from Justin’s forehead.

“A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.”

“Not so little.”

“No,” Justin agreed, sliding a hand down the front of Brian’s jeans, “not at all.”



The party was still going strong by the time they made it downstairs. Ancient Rome. That was Brian’s first thought when he saw the marble columns, the lush fall of greenery, the fountains spilling into the pool. If he’d thought the fountain out front was bawdy, these were positively obscene.

And the men. There were maybe a dozen - lounging, swimming, having sex. From what he could see, they were spectacular, in face and body. He suspected they shared something else in common: they were stand-outs in their particular discipline.

Justin grinned up at Brian, watching him take it all in. “So maybe more Bacchus than Socrates?”

Maybe more Adonis, Brian thought as a tall, tanned god of a man called out Justin’s name. He recognized Mason from the pictures he’d seen on-line, but they didn’t do him justice. For one thing, he was younger. For another, he was in top physical condition. The silk T-shirt and pants did little to hide his athlete’s body.

“I’m glad you made it,” Mason said, giving Justin a warm hug. “I was about to give up on you.”

“We were delayed,” Justin said. “Sorry.”

“We should all have your excuse,” Mason said, eyeing Justin’s hair.

Justin ducked his head, smiling, and Mason turned to Brian.

“It’s very good to finally meet you, Brian.”

“Likewise,” Brian said, shaking Mason’s hand.

“Justin’s told me a great deal about you.”

“Has he?” Brian asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Not to worry,” Mason assured him. “Nothing I couldn’t have read for myself in trade publications or business journals.”

“Such dry reading. You must think me all work and no play.”

“Hardly. Justin doesn’t strike me as the sort of man to tolerate no play for any significant length of time.”

“I’m not,” Justin said. “But lucky for Brian, he’s a master at burning the candle at all ends.”

“And from the look of you, I’d have to agree,” Mason said, ruffling Justin’s hair.

“My compliments on your collection,” Brian said, draping an arm around Justin's shoulders.

“Thank you. Did Justin show you the upper galleries?”

“I meant," Brian gestured to the playground around them, "this collection."

“Ah,” Mason said with a smile. “I’ll be the first to admit I’m an aesthete nonpareil.” He leaned in conspiratorially. “My mother was Parisian.”

Justin laughed and Mason squeezed his arm. “I’ll see you both later. Enjoy yourselves.”

“Whether you want to admit it or not, you two have a lot in common,” Justin said, after Mason had gone. He took Brian’s hand and led him to a strategic set of lounge chairs by a shallow wading area.

“We’re both gorgeous, tall and hung?”

“You noticed,” Justin said approvingly.

Brian snorted. Of course he’d noticed. That was his job.

Justin helped Brian arrange their towels, then sat down next to him. “You’re both ferociously intelligent, you’re successful beyond your wildest dreams, you appreciate the finer things in life, and you both find me, utterly captivating.”

“Christ, as if your ego wasn't big enough already.”

“Have you forgotten there’s no such thing as enough?” Justin asked, nuzzling behind Brian’s ear to hide his smile.

“Hey, Justin!”

Justin looked up and waved to a brunet across the pool. He was wearing headphones and bouncing in place behind an array of electronics.

“That’s Tiago,” Justin said. “He’s a D.J.”

“No shit.”

“Hey Justin,” Tiago yelled again. “You gonna mix drinks?”

“I bartended last time.”

“In that case, bring me-”

“A tall Jewel Classic with a hint of tonic?”

“Keep that up and you’ll be swimming in tips.”

“Par for the course around here.”

Brian watched Justin saunter away, his white bathing suit, smooth and tight. He was slightly tanned and Brian remembered that he’d been working on some rooftop project to beautify the city’s water towers. It looked like he’d been doing it in nothing but a pair of shorts.

It was nearly half an hour before Justin came back.

“I could’ve grown and fermented my own wheat by now,” Brian said, letting go of the bobbing head at his groin to accept his drink.

“I can’t help it if I’m popular.”

“Your dick’s popular.”

“And your dick’s such a wall flower,” Justin said, sitting down to watch the action between Brian’s legs. The guy was good and Justin made a mental note to look him up later.

“Tell Tiago his Donna Summer tribute sucks,” Brian grunted. The trick had just sped up. “There’s nothing sadder than a fag stuck in the past.”

Justin courteously waited for Brian’s orgasm to subside before replying. “Says the fag who drives a thirty-year-old car.”

“What happened to fucking a classic in a classic?”

“We’d been in the showroom for days. I had to say something.”

“Hey,” Justin said, flashing a smile at the redhead who’d just stood up. “See you later?”

“Count on it.” The guy winked and flashed a smile of his own before strolling away.

“Lazy tongue-work,” Brian said, reaching for a cigarette.

“I’m sorry,” Justin said, putting his hand on Brian’s chest. “I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Me. Spoiling you for everyone else.”

“Aren’t you being a tad presumptuous?”

“I prefer cocksure.”

Brian smiled in spite of himself. “Okay, hotshot, tell me who’s worth fucking in this joint.”

Justin cozied up to Brian’s side and began to dish. “I only know five of the guys here; everyone else is new. Over there,” Justin pointed to a terraced area covered in vines, “is Leo. He’s a terrific fuck. Tiago’s got a great ass. We fucked in his club a couple of months ago. Let’s see. The guy on the high dive? That’s Sander. Average fuck, but he can suck his own cock. And there, by the fountain. That’s Zach. He’s a stellar fuck. I’d save him for last.

“That’s four. I thought you've had five.”

“I know five, but I’ve only fucked four. That’s Jan, in the red,” Justin said, pointing to a shaggy blond dancing with two other guys on one of the circular platforms that rose out of the deep end. “He lives in Berlin, but comes over for a month every summer. He taught me how to surf last year. Remember? I told you about it.”


“He’s been arrested twice for defacement of public property,” Justin continued. “Large scale graffiti. Mostly political.”

“I’m surprised the U.S. lets him in.”

“His father’s some kind of high-ranking politician. Jan says he pulls strings with the state department.”

Just then, Tiago’s 70s mix segued into a new club hit that was part salsa, part rap and a whoop went up from the crowd.

“Come on,” Justin said, jumping up. “I love this song.”

“Knock yourself out. Zach’s about to experience the fuck of a lifetime.”

“You’re supposed to save him for last.”

“Get in before anyone else. That philosophy’s served me well all my life. In work,” Brian drained the last of his vodka, “and in play.”

“And I’m the perfect example of your philosophy in action. You got in before anyone else and look at how well it’s served you.” Justin grabbed Brian’s chin, gave him a quick kiss and danced away before Brian could say anything else.

Nearly everyone was dancing now. Brian watched Justin dive into the water, climb onto one of the lower platforms, and start to move. Dangerously. Spotting Justin below him, Jan jumped in, swam over and joined him, grabbing him from behind and grinding into his ass in time to the Latin beat. Obviously delighted, Justin reached around and pulled Jan closer, matching his rhythm then ramping it up a notch. Soon, their dancing had gotten so raunchy, some of the guys stopped dancing to cheer them on.

Brian was so intent on the performance, he didn’t notice Mason standing next to him.

“You’re a lucky man.”

Brian didn’t take his eyes off the show. “Tell me something I don’t know.”

“All right,” Mason said affably. “Justin misses you more than he lets on.”

“If I’d known relationship advice was part of the package at Maison Mason, I would’ve come a whole lot sooner.”

“Fair enough,” Mason said, holding his hands up in a truce, but he fired a parting shot before he left. “Just remember, there’s a whole, wide world out there and men that want to show it to him.”

At that moment, the song ended and a couple of the guys pushed Justin and Jan into the pool, in obvious reference to cooling them off, then jumped in after them. Justin was lost in a froth of splashing and dunking before breaking away from the fray and swimming the length of the pool back to Brian.

“My kingdom for some water,” Justin said, climbing out of the pool, laughing and out of breath.

“Your lordship,” Brian said, throwing him a bottle from the built-in cooler behind the lounge chair.

“Come down to the beach and watch me surf,” Justin said after gulping down half his water. “Jan says the surf’s good right now.”

“This is better than Beach Blanket Bingo,” Brian said, getting up.

Justin was still puzzling this out, when Katsuo and Jan walked up with surf boards under their arms.

“I brought the one you used last time,” Katsuo said, handing Justin the board he was carrying.

“Thanks, Katsuo. I need all the help I can get.”

“You coming?” Justin asked, flicking some water on Brian’s leg.

“Yeah. Let me get another drink, and I’ll see you down there. Dude.”

Shaking his head and grinning, Justin turned to follow Jan down to the beach.

Brian was on his way back from the bar, when Leo, one of the guys Justin had pointed out, stopped him. “There’s a party in the large cabana.”

“Maybe later,” Brian said, unlatching the gate to the boardwalk which led down to the sand. He chose a double lounge chair close to the water’s edge and settled in to watch.

Jan was good and rode the waves like he’d been doing it all his life. As for Justin, Brian spent the next hour and a half, alternately chuckling at and silently rooting for him. His antics to stay on the board were amusing as hell, but when he did manage to stay on his feet, he did so with such natural grace that Brian found it hard to look away.

The sun was low in the sky, when they finally came in.

“Well?” Justin asked.

“You might want to stick to the studio or, in your case,” Brian said, looking at Jan, “the alley.”

Jan laughed good-naturedly. “I sometimes work in alleys, but mostly I do government buildings and train stations.”

“You want to try?” Justin asked Brian. “Jan’s a great teacher.”

“Thanks, but I’m saving myself for the orgy.”

“There’s another orgy?” Jan asked.

“In Brian’s world, there’s always another orgy,” Justin said, with a wry smile. He flopped down on the lounge chair and stretched luxuriously. “Although, considering it’s Saturday night at Mason’s, he’s probably right.”

Jan glanced at his watch. “I have to go. I promised Leo I’d let him shoot me before dark. Catch you later,” Jan said and headed back to the house.

“I take it Leo’s a photographer?”

“Yeah,” Justin said, turning on his side and scooting closer. “Guess what? Jan invited me to go to Berlin next year. He said there’s an annual exhibition in March that’s incredible.”

“Just don’t get arrested,” Brian said lightly. “It’d be awfully hard to post bail from Pittsburgh.”

“That wouldn’t be a problem if you came with me,” Justin said, closing his eyes, and muffling a yawn against Brian’s shoulder. “God, this feels so good. If I fall asleep, wake me up in time for dinner, or the orgy, whichever comes first.”

“You’ve been sleeping like someone with narcolepsy since I got here. Am I boring you, Sunshine?”

“Yeah, asshole,” Justin said, pinching Brian’s nipple, “to tears. I’ve been sleeping like shit lately, and I guess it’s catching up with me.”

Brian studied Justin as he relaxed into slumber. He was slightly pink and dusted with sea salt, crystals of it caught in the dark gold hair of his arms and legs. He licked a finger, touched it to the back of Justin’s wrist and brought it to his mouth. He did it again, then looked out into the blue distance. There was a ship far off and nearly out of sight. Brian watched it sail until it disappeared over the horizon, on its way to all and everything that lay beyond.



They were late for dinner, arriving at the start of the dessert course. Apologizing as he took his place at Mason’s side, Justin unfolded his napkin and put it in his lap.

“Don’t tell me,” Mason said, filling Justin’s wine glass. “You were delayed?”

“If by delayed you mean that I had my cock so far up Justin’s ass it’s a miracle I didn’t have to ask where the lost and found is, then yes, we were delayed,” Brian said amiably, taking the glass out of Justin’s hand.

He took a sip of the stolen wine and pretended to consider. “Absolutely amazing.”

Mason threw back his head and laughed. “Yes. Yes it is.”

Shrugging and smiling broadly, Justin reached across Brian’s place setting to retrieve an empty glass. The unspoken, “my boyfriend’s a bit of an ass, but I love him anyway,” exceedingly eloquent in his every movement.

When Katsuo appeared with their steaks and salads, Justin dug in. He was famished and his dinner conversation from that point on consisted mostly of nods and polite grunts. When he finally laid down his silverware, he was amused to note that Brian’s plate was nearly as clean as his own.

“Mason, I think that was the best steak I’ve ever had,” Justin said, pouring himself more wine.

“Thank you. And you, Brian,” Mason asked, green eyes sparkling. “Did you enjoy it as well?”

Justin held his breath and waited.

“I’ve only had one better,” Brian said. “At Aragawa last year.”

“Ah, well. They’re the best in the world, aren’t they? Katsuo’s tried to buy beef from their farm before, but so far he hasn’t been successful. I’ll let him know you enjoyed it. Speaking of whom, I need to go see if he’s ready for us. Excuse me,” Mason said and left the table.

“Are we taking a field trip to the dungeon?” Brian asked, after Justin released him from a quick kiss and hug.

“Rumor has it that he’s found a copy of Vessel,” Jan said, eyes shining. He was sitting across from Brian.

“Vessel? As in the porn film, Vessel?” Brian asked, setting down his wine.

“Yeah. Can you believe it?  You look impressed,” Justin said.

“I am,” Brian admitted. “It’s the holy grail of gay porn. I saw some stills years ago, but they were really shitty quality.”

The buzz around the table had reached a crescendo by the time Mason finally returned. All heads turned expectantly to where he stood.

“As some of you may know, I’ve been on a quest for the better part of the last decade to find and acquire a copy of the 1930s German film, Vessel. After a lot of false leads, an obscene amount of cash, not to mention sucking my fair share of cock-”

“Nothing better for firming the jaw line,” Brian said, causing a ripple of laughter.

“Is that your secret?” Mason asked and had to wait for the laughter to die down before he could continue.

“You know what? I think I’ll take a page from Brian’s book,” Mason said, nodding in Brian’s direction, “fuck the preamble. Let’s go watch porn.”

The table erupted in cheers and clapping as everyone pushed their chairs back to follow Mason to the theater.

As they crossed the breezeway to the adjoining wing, Brian let out a sudden laugh.

“What?” Justin asked.

“Theodore. He’s going to have a coronary when I tell him.”

“I think Mason will make me a copy if I ask him,” Justin said. “If he does, you can give it to Ted for his birthday, which by the way is in two weeks.”

“Make sure he sucks you off in the morning. That’s when your come’s the sweetest. It’ll cinch the deal.”

“Stop!” Justin laughed, slapping at Brian’s chest. “I’m not going to fuck him for it.”

“I don’t care if you fuck him hanging upside down from one of his imported date palms,” Brian said, holding the door open for Justin to enter the theater.

“Uh huh,” Justin said, as he pulled Brian into the back row. It was empty and they had it all to themselves.

The theater, like everything else, was done to the last detail. Mason had chosen to make it a faithful replica of the grand, old movie houses of yesteryear, complete with red velvet curtains and gilt Baroque ceiling and walls. The only modern touches were the seats - they were leather, wide, and reclined. They’d just finished adjusting them, when the curtain slid back and the lights went down.

The film was shot in black and white, and the opening scene revealed a forest clearing filled with muscular men wearing nothing but leather masks and boots. Most had long hair, some had horns and others had cunning, stubby tails protruding from their buttocks. It was the director’s version of a then modern-day gathering of woodland satyrs.

They were in high spirits, shouting and thrusting their erect penises into the air, swilling wine until it ran down their necks, their chests, and into the dark hair at their groins. They galloped and wrestled, large thighs glistening in the sun, uttering guttural cries as they chased and tumbled in the grass.

There were maybe forty in all and they reminded Justin of wild stallions. He settled lower in his seat and slid his feet apart.

The revelers had worked themselves into a proper frenzy, when from beneath the trees, a hooded figure emerged. He led a naked, young man by a rope looped around his neck. Blond and lithe, a garland of flowers at his brow and one at his hips, he was all fresh milk and cream. A virgin.

After spreading a goat hide on a flat, raised stone, the hooded man motioned for the virgin to climb onto it. He did so eagerly, lying on his back and letting his legs fall open.

The satyrs had grown still and were gathering silently into a tight circle around the stone and the young man who lolled on it. His cock jutted from his body and when he brought his knees to his chest, Justin could see that his testicles and anus were completely hairless - he’d been shaved for the ceremony.

Brian glanced over and saw that Justin's lips were parted.

“He looks like you,” Brian said, his whisper warm on Justin’s neck.

“Yeah,” Justin breathed, leaning into Brian’s touch, not taking his eyes off the screen.

The first of the satyrs approached the virgin, cock curved hard and shining with oil.

A scythe, Justin thought.

As the satyr fucked the virgin, the rest of them lined up, stroking themselves, stroking each other, getting ready for their turn. When the first satyr came, howling and sunk to his balls, Justin reached blindly for Brian’s hand and pressed it to his erection, arching into the familiar grip.

One by one, the satyrs took the virgin, holding him down, biting at his nipples, his belly, his throat, as they emptied themselves into his body. The blossoms were torn from him and cast to the ground.

Brian had unzipped Justin’s jeans and released him, stroking in time to the action on the screen. He was good at this, and Justin sighed his pleasure.

When the last satyr had finished, the hooded man removed his head covering and knelt on the ground. Lifting his face to the sky, he spoke the only words in the movie. They were in German, but Brian had known them most of his adult life.

“Bring me the vessel.”

The vessel was lifted by two of the satyrs and carried to the man who waited for him. They held him, spread-eagled, over the man’s up-turned face. The camera came in for a close up then. The vessel’s anus was swollen, spasming and wet. It relaxed suddenly and the semen was released in a rush, falling onto the face of the kneeling man, running into his eyes, his hair, his mouth.

At Brian’s side, Justin lifted his hips, urging him to stroke faster. On screen, the man spread the vessel’s anus wide and sucked hard. Loud, greedy sucks. He worked his tongue deep, licking out all the come, swallowing the last of his sacrament.

Justin came then, shutting his eyes for the first time since the film started, gripping the armrests and convulsing hard in Brian’s hand. So fucking good.

What seemed like eons later, he felt a tug on his dick and opened his eyes. Brian was smiling at him and brushing the hair back from his forehead. “Good, huh?”

“God,” Justin said, laughing a little.

“Good orgasm, good steak. I’d say you were having a good night.”

“Yeah,” Justin said, pulling Brian to him and kissing him roughly. “I am.”

Slowly, they became aware of a growing murmur of voices and they sat up, looking around. The credits had finished scrolling and the curtains were sliding closed.

“There’s talk of an orgy,” Brian said.

“Let’s go,” Justin said. He zipped up, then stood, holding out his hand. “We’ll make it a good night for everyone else.”

“Your altruism is commendable.”

“I had a great mentor,” Justin said, putting his arm around Brian’s waist. “Come on. It’s probably in the harem room.”

“Is everything a theme with this guy?”

“I forget. Does Babylon have two or three theme nights a week these days?”

“Babylon’s a club, not a house.”

“Tell that to Todd.”

They were still laughing over their favorite Todd anecdote when they came to an arched doorway hung with diaphanous fabric. Justin parted the layers and led Brian into a room lit solely by flame-filled braziers. The flickering light gave the room a dream-like quality and Brian whistled appreciatively, steering Justin toward a cluster of large floor pillows where he stripped him then disrobed himself.

It was hours before they left their realm, naked, carrying their clothes through a silent house, arms entwined as they climbed the stairs to their room. They fell into bed, too tired to shower, too sated to care.



The next morning, Brian woke to the cry of seagulls and the scent of jasmine from the gardens below. Not wanting to wake Justin, he untangled himself carefully and went to the bathroom to relieve himself. When he came back, he paused at the side of the bed.

The sun had caught Justin in its rays, his sleep-flushed skin tinged golden, and at his throat, dried come glinted pearly white. How many times had he seen him like this? How many more?

His thoughts were interrupted when Justin grunted in his sleep, sliding a hand along the snowy sheets, obviously searching for him.

Brian got back into bed then and Justin pressed close, murmuring and rubbing himself against Brian’s body. Smiling, Brian stayed still, remembering Justin at seventeen. Wet dreams had been regular occurrences then, and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Justin engage in nocturnal frottage. He watched Justin’s brow tense in concentration and waited, wondering if he’d come or wake himself up.

Sensing a quickening, Brian pulled Justin closer, felt him stiffen, heard his sigh, and there. A warm flood pulsed between them. Brian was so hard now, it hurt. He wanted Justin awake and kissed him, sneaking his tongue past his lips, teasing his mouth open, tasting their excesses, carnal, bitter, and in Justin’s mouth, nectar.

Justin opened his eyes and smiled sleepily. “You rang?”

“You rang first,” Brian said, squeezing Justin’s half-filled cock.

Justin buried his face into the pillow. “Oh god.”

“What do your tricks think of your wake up calls?”

“My tricks don’t think anything because they’re usually not there in the morning.”

“You’re kicking them out these days?”

“Lately, yeah. I got tired of all the awkwardness.”

“What awkwardness? You fuck them again, then show them the door.”

“I’m not you, Brian,” Justin said, gently tapping Brian’s nose. “But I know what you think of my wake up calls.” He slid a finger across the velvety tip of Brian’s cock. It came away glistening, and he held it up for Brian’s inspection. “You fucking love them, don’t you?”

Brian smiled a predatory smile. “Turn over and I’ll show you how much.”

Two fucks later and they both knew exactly how much.

“Let’s go back,” Justin said, wiping the sweat from his face and chest with a corner of the sheet. “If we leave now, we’ll miss the worst of the traffic.”

“And miss today’s debauchery?”

“I’ve had everyone.”

“Twice each, from what I saw. You were a perfect trollop,” Brian said, playfully slapping Justin’s ass.

“I prefer to think of myself as thorough,” Justin said, then regarded Brian seriously. “You sure you don’t want to stay?”

“Veni, vidi, vici,” Brian said, then brought Justin’s hand to his mouth and kissed his fingers. “I’m sure.”

“Okay," Justin said, smiling happily. "But let's go now before everyone else wakes up. I hate all the goodbyes. Mason will probably be up, but if not, I’ll leave him a note.”

“I’m not going anywhere without a shower. I stink. And you,” Brian said, hooking his arm around Justin’s neck to pull him into the bathroom, “are approaching toxic. I’d never get the smell out of the car.”

Mason met them in the foyer with a cup of coffee in his hand. He didn’t seem surprised to see them, bags packed, ready to go.

“Come have some coffee and bagels before you leave. It’s only Katsuo and I.”

Mason drew Justin aside. “I’m glad I finally got to meet Brian. He’s completely head over heels in love with you. You know that, right?”

“I know,” Justin nodded.

“He’ll come around, and I think it’ll be sooner than later.”

“How can you know that?”

“Years of experience and an unfailing eye,” Mason said, putting his arm around Justin’s shoulders and walking him into the kitchen where Brian and Katsuo were drinking coffee in companionable silence.

After they’d finished their breakfast, Mason called them a cab and they said their goodbyes, Justin promising they’d try to come back at least one more time before the end of the summer. Because of the early hour, they had the ferry mostly to themselves and they watched the island recede in peaceful solitude.

“You ever think about buying a house out here?” Justin asked.

“Sure,” Brian said. “Here, London, Paris.”

“Somewhere on the Mediterranean.”



“What do you think?” Brian said, taking Justin’s hand in his.

“So what are you waiting for?”

Good question. What was he waiting for? It had been two years since Justin had moved to New York. Two years in which Brian had waited to see what would happen. It had become increasingly clear, that Justin wasn’t leaving anytime soon. And Brian didn’t want Justin to leave anytime soon - he was just now getting his sea legs, and Brian couldn’t wait to watch him sail.

When Brian didn’t reply, Justin squeezed his hand and said, “No time like the present. That’s my philosophy.”

It was early afternoon when they got back to the city. After parking the car, they walked to the Farmer’s Market at Union Square and bought ingredients for dinner. Justin wanted to make a Japanese stir-fry from a recipe he’d gotten from Katsuo.

They spent the rest of the day content in each other’s company, at ease, and if Brian had been forced to define it in one word, he would have said, complete.

Justin was sleeping now, and from the sound of his breathing, he was out for the night. Brian lit a cigarette and went to the dresser to look at his watch. Midnight. His flight was in less than six hours, and on cue, he felt the tightening in his gut that always preceded his departures.

He crossed to the window where Justin kept an ashtray for him and looked out at the city - Manhattan lay glittering beyond, the whole world lay glittering beyond. He thought about Justin sleeping alone in a bed big enough for four; Brian had made sure of that when he’d bought it. He thought about his own bed in Pittsburgh. It was big enough for four, but mostly it held just him.

All that empty space, and he’d be damned if he’d allow himself to think of all the wasted time. He turned to look at Justin, just visible in the pale darkness. Sleeping alone. Waiting for him.

Stubbing out his cigarette, he looked out at the city one more time. Far above, a plane flew from east to west until it disappeared from sight. How high did you have to go before you could see the curve of the earth? He’d know in a few hours, he thought bitterly.

He went to the bathroom and washed his face then got into bed, gathering Justin to him, smelling soap and salt and clean and his.

No time like the present, Justin had said. Maybe it was time for a change in philosophy.

Or maybe, Brian thought, a change in geography.

He closed his eyes, breathed in, breathed out.

Breathed in.

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