C'est la Vie
Gus and Ray strolled down the boulevard not far from their hotel. They had spent the morning taking in some sights and spending free, glorious time together. They stopped at a small cafe with tables outside and in. They were perusing the posted menu when they heard their names being called. They looked up to see Cynthia and her boyfriend waving to them from one of the outside tables.
"Hey," Gus said, "fancy meeting you here."
"Quite the coincidence. Would you like to join us for lunch?" Cynthia asked. "We just ordered."
"Is there room?" Gus asked.
Matthew, Cynthia's boyfriend, waved at their waiter who quickly added two more place settings to the table and found another chair to add to the single one sitting empty at Cynthia's table.
"Thanks," Ray said as they sat down.
They quickly ordered and got some soft drinks. Cynthia and Matthew were sipping their wine as they waited for their meals to appear.
"So what did you do this morning?" Cynthia asked.
"We were at the Musee D'Orsay," Ray said with his best French accent. "I'm getting quite an art education on this trip."
"It's a great museum," Gus informed them. Used to be a railway station, but now it has some Van Gogh's and other great pieces."
"Yeah, some I knew about and others I never heard of," Ray responded with a flat statement.
"You like the galleries, don't you?" Gus asked with a frown, suddenly realizing that maybe he was forcing Ray to do things he really wasn't interested in.
"I like them just fine. It's added a whole new understanding about art and how you integrate that with business," Ray said as he squeezed Gus' thigh to show his support.
"Phew," Gus said letting out a long breath. "It just dawned on me that we've done a lot of things I want to do and not much that you've wanted."
"I wanted to do all the things we've done, so stop worrying."
"If you're sure..."
"I'm sure," Ray stated.
"What's next for you two?" Cynthia asked deciding that it was time to change the topic.
"Don't know yet," Ray said. "We're just enjoying being together in this wonderful city."
Gus smiled. "I second that."
"We're thinking of taking a day trip out to Mont St. Michel," Matthew said. "It's such a unique structure."
"That sounds really interesting," Ray said thoughtfully.
"Is that something you'd like to do?" Gus asked.
"Then maybe we could go too," Gus suggested.
"It's mostly architecture, not your usual thing," Ray said. "You probably wouldn't like it."
"I could learn something about architecture just like you've learned stuff about art. Besides, Uncle John would be proud of me for going there," Gus said smugly.
"Your Uncle John wouldn't care," Ray said, smiling but shaking his head.
"I beg to differ. Uncle John would most definitely care. I'll be able to talk architecture with him. Besides, I really want to do something that you're interested in."
"Okay," Ray said with a smile. "How are you going to do it?" he asked Matthew.
"We found a company that does small tour groups and we thought we'd book with them for tomorrow. They have spaces available."
"Would you mind if we came with you? But, we don't want to butt into your holiday," Gus said immediately, recognizing that Cynthia and Matthew might want to be on their own.
"I think that would be fun," Cynthia replied. "What do you think, Matthew?"
"Fine with me, if you don't think us old folks will hold you up."
"Not likely," Ray said with a smile.
"I've got the tour company's number on my phone. I'll just walk along the street and confirm for four of us, if that's what you want," Matthew informed them.
When everyone nodded in agreement, Matthew left the restaurant to make the call.
"That's really nice of you guys," Gus said. "We don't want to impose."
"Don't give it another thought," Cynthia said sternly. "Here's to a happy outing together." She raised her wine glass and clinked with Ray and Gus' soft drink glasses.
Their meal was just being served when Matthew returned with news that everything had been arranged.
Brian lay on his back looking at the ceiling of his hotel room. "That was spectacular!" he said as he waited for his heart rate to come back to normal.
"Not bad if I do say so myself," his bedmate replied.
"We haven't lost it yet," Brian replied with a naughty grin. "Something about burning up the sheets seems to come to mind."
"I'm surprised the bed sheets, and us, didn't burst into flames," Justin laughed. "There's nothing like a little afternoon delight."
"In the city of lights," Brian added.
"I love you, Sunshine," Brian said with a smile. "Sometimes I forget to tell you that."
"You tell me that everyday in so many different ways. I don't need the words."
"But sometimes it's good to say them."
Justin smiled contentedly. "Yeah, it is, and I could say backatcha, Kinney. Or, I could say, 'I love you to the moon and back'. Or, I could say, 'You are my life, Brian Kinney, I love you so much'. Or, I could..."
"Or you could just shut up and kiss me," Brian said with a laugh.
Justin kissed him within an inch of his life. "Good enough?" Justin asked when he finally stopped kissing his husband.
"Never enough," Brian replied in his old philosophical manner.
"And I hope we never get enough because then we'd stop wanting each other."
"That's never going to happen," Brian said sincerely.
"I think I should bring you to Paris more often. It brings out your romantic side."
Brian made a face, but then grinned at his partner.
Just then a phone rang.
"That's yours," Brian said.
"Hope there isn't a problem with one of the galleries," he said as he rolled over to grab his phone off the nightstand. "It's home calling," he said with a worried look on his face.
"Home?" Brian said sitting up.
"Hello," Justin said into his phone. "Bree? What's wrong?"
"Nothing, Daddy," a small voice said. "I miss you and Dada."
"Is that why you're calling?" Justin asked rather sternly.
"Okay, sweetheart, you don't need to be upset. We'll be home in a few days."
"I know, but I loved Paris and I wish I was still there with you."
"I miss you too. sweetheart. Do you want to speak to Dada?"
Justin handed the phone to Brian.
"What's up, Squirt?"
"I miss you."
"Miss you too, but you're a big girl and you know we'll be home soon."
"I know, but..."
"No buts, you can call any time you feel the need, but don't be sad. We'll see you soon. Okay?"
"Okay, Dada, I love you."
"Love you too, Bree. Bye."
Brian handed Justin his phone. "I think she wants to be here not at home with school and all the ordinary stuff of life."
"Who can blame her?"
Brian shook his head. "Do you believe that I told her she's a big girl. I've been fighting that for so long."
"You're a good dad, Brian Kinney. And you're going to get laid one more time."
"To quote my partner, "Yeehaw!"
They fell into each other's arms laughing and kissing.
“What’s that?” Alex asked. Ben was fidgeting with something he took out of his wallet. Instead of answering, Ben placed a photo on Alex’s desk. “Your wedding?”
Ben nodded. “In Canada, during a break in the bike race. We were so happy back then; even Brian was happy for us,” Ben remarked. Alex had an inquisitive look on his face. “He got us the cake,” Ben explained.
“And now?” Ben didn’t answer he just shrugged his massive shoulders. Alex was sure Ben was gaining muscle mass faster than men half his age. Ben’s t-shirt was straining at the seams. “Ben, I have to ask this as your doctor, as your friend, and as a partner to another gym bunny…”
“I’m not doing steroids,” Ben stated before Alex asked. Ben could see the relief flood Alex’s face. “That was a horrible time for me that doesn’t bear repeating.”
“Okay. I’m sorry for asking.”
“No you’re not and as my friend, doctor, and partner to that loud mouth gym bunny, I wouldn’t expect anything else. Besides, there are far too many people who wouldn’t hesitate to beat the shit out of me if I even thought of doing that poison again.”
“You’d just rather beat the shit out of yourself all by yourself,” Alex growled. Ben glared. “Fine. Enough about your growing muscles; they’re beginning to scare me. I’m intimidated enough by Glen and all of his muscles. Thank you very much.” Alex growled something about ordinary men with just the right amount of muscle mass. Ben snorted a laugh. “And he’s back. Are you ready to be serious?” Ben nodded. “Good. Have you considered couples’ therapy?”
“No,” Ben emphatically stated.
“First of all, Michael would never go for it. He doesn’t believe in therapy. Secondly, I’m too exhausted to try. All I want to do at the end of this semester is to pack up my stuff and go back to the cabin. I want a real vacation where no one complains about my tofu burgers. I can eat all the salad I want in peace. And write until my fingers bleed, metaphorically speaking,” Ben added before Alex could object. “I’m tired, Alex, so very tired.” Ben buried his face into his hands.
Alex gave Ben the time he needed to get himself together. It was obvious that the strain of keeping up appearances, trying to maintain a happy face was getting to Ben. Nothing would be accomplished or decided until Ben was fully rested. Alex didn’t believe in putting things off or “trial separations” but this wasn’t about Alex or his beliefs. This was about a man, no matter how strong mentally or physically, who needed a break from the real world, if only for a little while.
“When does this semester end? I mean done, done. Papers and tests graded; no more going back to campus.”
“The 19th, why?”
Alex took out his prescription pad and began to write. He ripped off the script and handed it to his patient. “Uh uh, read it before you object,” Alex said forestalling Ben’s objections and grumblings.
“Take six months of peace and quiet. May be refilled for an additional two more months as needed,” Ben read aloud. “I don’t understand.”
“What’s there to understand? As soon as your semester is done, pack your bags and go. I do suggest you tell Michael about your plans and refer him to his own therapist. I have many colleagues that enjoy a challenge. Perhaps he’ll realize the seriousness of the situation and see someone.”
“Are you dropping me as a client?”
“Of course not. You know we’ve had this great invention know as a telephone for well over one hundred years and this curious thing called Facetime,” Alex snarked.
“Oh ha ha. I think you’ve been hanging around Glen for far too long.”
“Why thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment. Now, before you go on your little woodland vacation, I want you to have a full physical. Make sure all your medications are up to date. Let the guys on the lane know what you’re planning so John has plenty of time to prep the cabin.”
“Don’t you mean warn them? Who knows how Michael is going to take this or Debbie for that matter. I’m not looking forward to having my eyes scratched out or my ears boxed in.”
“She is a formidable woman,” Alex agreed.
“That’s putting it nicely.”
“All actions, large or small have some consequences. It’s up to you to decide if peace and quiet alone on the lane will be worth the consequences.”
“I won’t really be alone, will I?”
“No you won’t. And because of that fact, Michael may jump to many of the wrong conclusions.”
“More consequences of my actions?” Ben asked, receiving a nod in return. “I guess I have some important decisions to make.” Ben stood up, retrieved his photo, placing it back in his wallet. “Will I see you before I go?”
“Of course and as many times as necessary,” Alex assured his client.
“Thank you,” Ben said as he extended his hand. Alex took it readily. “And as usual I leave here with more questions than I came with.”
“Good; that means I’ve done my job correctly.”
“It also means that you’re an annoying son of a bitch.”
“Language, language, Professor. I may have to add extra to your bill to compensate me for the damage to my innocent ears.”
“Bull!” Ben pronounced as he left Alex’s office, script in hand.
Alex sat quietly for a few moments before packing up for the evening. He always tried to make Ben his last appointment for the day. Alex felt drained; going home to Glen made Alex feel better. Just then his phone rang.
“Hey, Babe!” a cheerful voice addressed Alex as soon as Alex answered.
“Uh oh, I know that tone. Rough day?”
“How do you know I had a rough day from one tiny word?”
“Babe, how long have we known each other?”
“Too long, apparently.”
“Be that as it may, I’m not in the mood to cook. How about we meet for dinner? I’m buying.”
“If you’re buying, who am I to refuse?”
“Now yer talkin’! I’ll meet you at Emmett’s Place. I’ll be the good looking one with stars in my eyes,” Glen stated with confidence making Alex burst out laughing. “And he’s back. See you in a few.”
“Yes you will, so no flirting with the help.”
“Damn, you never let me have fun.”
“Say goodbye, Glen.”
Alex just shook his head as he packed up his briefcase. He gave his desk a quick glance then grabbed his coat. He was smiling all the way to his car. Alex knew that the reason for his smile was due to the man he was going to meet for dinner.
“When do we go home?” Justin whispered in the dark. He felt Brian’s arms tighten around him.
“Whenever you’re ready to leave,” came his answer.
“I’d like to visit the Fleur-de-Lis Gallery. I think my floral paintings will do well there.”
“Then that’s where we’ll go tomorrow and then we’ll discuss going home. Okay?”
“Okay,” Justin agreed. Justin felt Brian’s lips on his temple. Justin snuggled down deeper next to his spouse.
“Love you, Sunshine,” Brian managed just before Justin heard the telltale wheeze that told him that Brian was asleep.
“Love you too, Big Guy,” Justin murmured with a little kiss to the nearest bit of Brian’s skin.
“Did you have fun today?” Ray asked.
“I had a great time,” replied Gus as they sat at a nearby café enjoying something warm and chocolaty before going back to the hotel.
“Do you have any idea what we should do tomorrow?”
“Nope,” Gus said with a grin.
“Then I guess we shall see how we feel in the morning.”
With nothing on their agenda but to enjoy themselves and their sweet treats, the boys sat back, enjoying the Parisian night.
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