Romantic, wordy, and a tad goofy.

Discerning Palate Part 6

"Isaac? What the hell are you doing here?" If I didn't know he was straight I'd say he gave me a full-body assessment like the type I'd been getting all night. That wasn't the case, of course. My brain was just floating in booze that made even the most pissed off of gazes seem lascivious.

I lifted my eyebrows and composed my face after my drink-enabled gaze did its own wandering. The short sleeve button up shirt he was wearing was half undone, untucked, and he didn't appear to be wearing a belt or shoes. The sleek, muscular lines of his neck down to his chest gleamed in his tasteful lights, and I saw dark, curly hair. Don't tell anyone, but I have a thing for chest hair. Just not his. Nope. Not at all.

"You know your security sucks, right?" I asked. "I hope you don’t have any enemies. Other than me, of course."

"Isaac…" he said with clear exasperation. I ignored his tone and lack of invitation and strode right into his living room.

I looked around. "Nice place," I noted begrudgingly. It was, and this was separate from the obvious well-designed luxury condo aspect. There was - to my surprise - art on the walls, and the furniture was all warm colors and interesting, eye-catching contrasts. Actually, it had a lot in common with the restaurant. I turned, and he opened his mouth. I cut him off, and gave him my biggest, most asshole grin. "You said you wanted to talk to me, right? So." I turned my wrists in a gesture of presentation. "Viola, wish granted. I'm here. What the fuck do you want?"

Alex stared at me with gratifying incredulity that morphed into a gleam I couldn't identify. If I didn't know better I'd say that was a smile that tugged at the corner of his mouth. "It's after midnight. I was going to find you tomorrow."

"So you can hunt me down, goons in tow? Fuck that. I was out, so I came to you. Hope that's a problem."

He sighed, crossed his arms over his chest. There was that full body look again. It made me twitchy, and I read it as judgmental. "Where'd you go?"

"Went dancing at Revolution - nice place, not a bad selection of men. I made some new friends."

"Looking like that? I'm sure." His tone was dry. "Nice haircut."

"Yeah?" I stretched my neck and torso, then ran my hand through it. "Looks damn good, right? I got a lot of compliments. The hairdresser was hot." I walked past him, giving him a saucy wink as I headed into the kitchen. Now I was trying to make him uncomfortable, and judging by the way his eyes darted from mine and the tightening of his cheekbones I was pulling it off.

I started to touch everything in his kitchen, feeling his eyes on me. "Not bad equipment," I noted, tapping the rough stone countertops before moving on to his appliances. "Although it's more gleam than utility - I'd only buy this shit for the looks, since the prices are fucking ridiculous."

I opened the oven, took in its spatter-free perfection. "You don't cook, do you? Oh, god, no, no you don't. Just like your mom." That was at the refrigerator, which was a condiment and small snack party. I closed it with disgusted relish. "How do you live like this?"

"We didn't all grow up with your mother, and you know it. Look, I don’t want to talk now. You’ve been drinking, Isaac. That seems dangerous." Alex had moved to the entrance of the kitchen, his brows furrowed.

"What makes you think I've been drinking?" I made my eyes wide and my expression scandalized. "I never, Mr. Channing. The things you accuse me of."

There it was, that almost-smile again; he clamped it down and moved forward. "You think you're funny, don't you? This really isn't the time to talk, and I'm not kidding. You need to leave." His eyes flashed to the hallway beyond the kitchen. It didn't mean anything then, since I was on a roll.

"I think I have a right to talk to you whenever I want, considering you're planning on forcing me to work for you for the foreseeable future." I leaned against the counter in front of him, and smiled. "And I wouldn't worry about talking to me when I'm sort of drunk. It actually seems to have made me want to beat your ass less, not more. Couldn't tell you why, but for some reason I just want to make fun of you and your criminal fucktwittery as opposed to scream and cry, as I did yesterday. Doesn't make much sense, does it?"

He pressed his palms to his eye sockets. "You are a royal pain, Isaac."

"Always, Sandy."

He dropped his hands and narrowed his eyes at me. "One second I'm Alex, the next I'm Channing, 'a dickwad like Christo', and then I'm Sandy again. Which one am I?"

I shook my head. "How the fuck should I know? You seem to be all of them and yet none. It's goddamn maddening." The words came out a lot rawer than I intended, with a despair I certainly didn't mean to show him.  Something in his face made my eyes fall to my hands and I moved on quickly, my tone still serious. "Please. Just talk. Just get this over with."

"This isn't a half-drunk conversation, Isaac," he said. His tone was gentle, and his hand touched my forearm where it propped me up above the counter. "I've been drinking also. It's detail stuff that we have to go over, planning. We really do need to do this sober." I looked at him, and I guess I could see the alcohol there. His eyes were a bit fuzzy, his cheeks flushed, and I noticed that his speech was softer, less hard than I'd heard it before, if still matter-of-fact. But he'd always been kinda like that, careful and business-like.

Regardless of our equal tipsiness I was going to protest his desire to kick me out again, since half-drunk still seemed like the best mode to talk in.

But then the closeness of him and the feel of his hand coalesced. This was followed by the release of all the hormones I'd pent up after my encounter with the hot guy I stupidly didn't fuck, and those same stupid hormones focused themselves on this other brunette, this brunette I used to have a more-than-serious thing for. I tilted my head and stared at him, and damn if the fucker didn't step closer.

"You smell really good," he suddenly said, but in that same straightforward, casual tone. This made it hard for me to process clearly.

"I smell like sweat from dancing," I countered, eyes on his lips. "Probably gin, and maybe other men."

"That smells goddamn good." Man, I'd wondered what that mouth tasted like since I was about 12 years old, maybe earlier....


I heard his name in that particular tone, and I winced as he stepped back at least a foot. Twice in two days? Really? Random woman walks in on me about to kiss a guy - although, of course, in this case he wasn't about to kiss me, I was just about to get myself punched - and in the idiotic drama that my life had become -

Except that was no woman's voice.

I turned to find myself looking into the very peeved face of the pretty young guy from the restaurant. The painter/waiter who wasn't impressed with my commentary.

The dude. Or, to put it in my bitchiest way, the half-naked-in-jeans-only twink with the twatish expression on his face. I noted with a mean undertone that he wasn't in phenomenal shape - he had a very normal body, even a smidge pudgy. Not important, my brain reminded me, not important at all.

"Where'd you go, Alex?" The kid said, his voice angry and rising. "I was waiting for you." He shifted his eyes to me and his expression told of my death in lurid, violent ways.

I gaped.

"Go back to the bedroom, Brenden," Alex's tight voice said from behind me.

"No, I won't! Why is this asshole here?" He practically stomped his foot.

I turned and looked at Alex. My eyes felt huge.

"You're gay?" I said.

"Yes." He looked both frank and guilty, which was as confusing as fuck.

"But you stopped being my friend because I was gay!" I was stepping back, holding up my hand like he'd transformed into a face-hugging alien that was going to lunge for my orifices.

"That's…" Alex seemed to be searching for words, and obviously failed. He ran a hand through his dark, shiny hair. "That's where it got complicated."

Fucker sounded sincere, which made me even more confused and pissed off.

"Whoa." I grasped my head. "Just... whoa. Wait. Does your father know?"

"No. Yes." He took a very deep breath. "Please. Can we talk tomorrow?"

"Why would you want to talk to him?" Brenden said, and snarled. We both turned to him at the same time; whatever he saw there actually quelled him, and he widened his eyes.

"Go. To. The bedroom, Brenden."

With a fish-like opening and closing of his mouth the kid looked at Alex, looked at me, and then turned and stomped off, slamming the door behind him.

"Holy shit," I said, awed. "You dumped me, treated me like shit for a while, and you're fucking gay? And fucking children?"

"He's 21," Alex said, voice tight.

"Yeah, right." I didn't actually disbelieve him, I was just grasping and gasping for mental air. "He acts 12."

"He's not. Fuck. Look - I was going to tell you, Isaac."

"You are so fucked up," I said, boggled, and stepped back towards the door. I needed out of there. "This is so goddamn crazy. We're best friends and then suddenly I'm a fucking fag loser and you're gay. Wait, no, that's not the important thing here." I can't believe I said that out loud. I shook my head and tried to clear my mind, focus on the here and now, not on the sad little 14-year-old in my soul. "You're a gangster. A gay gangster with a thing for twinks and you're blackmailing me into working for you and this is really bizarre." I'd reached the door, bumping against it. "Holy. Shit."


"GODDAMN I hate you," I said, a note of awe in my voice. "I think I hate you more than I can say."

He stopped, his expression stunned by the absolute, hissing vehemence of what I'd said. It's not like it was a mystery, it's not like I hadn't said it before, it's not like it even began to express how I was really feeling. But something about that moment, the drunkeness, my being in his home - it made it all very real.

He pursed his lips and turned his profile to me, and his eyes were focused on the darkness beyond his windows. "Good," He said, tone dead. "I hate you too."

That had no right to sting, no right at all.

"Glad we're agreed, then."


I opened the door and pretty much stumbled out to the elevator. I then rushed out the lobby, waving vaguely as the front desk guy wished me good night.

Then I was on the little grassy sort-of-knoll in front of the apartment, looking around at Marrington like I'd never been there before.

So, yes, that had been a full body assessment. Yes, he had flirted with me at the bar when we'd first met again and he hadn't known who I was. I had not been delusional when I sensed a certain hunger (and hardness) when I pushed him against that kitchen counter the day before. He was gay, and despite our mutual loathing he was at least somewhat attracted to me.

My mind was blown, and for the second time in 48 hours I felt like Alex Channing had just rearranged my reality.

Something in my chest hurt, also. It was a familiar sensation, something I remember from being fourteen, fifteen, watching the boy I'd grown up with and at one point fallen in love with treat me like a maggot.

Holy hell, what did it all mean? With all the booze in my system I wasn't really ready to process anything. Maybe if I went home and watched movies, watched hours of 30 Rock or Murder She Wrote or something entertaining but not too taxing I could wait until the drinks pulled me into a nice, blackout sleep. Pulling out the card I had gotten earlier I rang Joe the cabbie, since I sure as hell wasn't going to have a long, introspective walk. Fuck, I was still pretty drunk. Going home sounded miserable and lonely.

So I dialed another number as sort of a Hail Mary. No way did I expect him to pick up; the poor boy was probably in bed, and if he was up he was probably doing community saving things.

I was wrong. It took two rings.

"Isaac?" Jason sounded shockingly awake.

"Did I wake you up?"

"No, I just got off patrol, and walked through the door five minutes ago. Is everything okay?"

I laughed. "Do people tend to call you when they're not okay?"

"As a cop?" He sounded amused. "God, yes. Especially after midnight. So you're fine?"

"Mmm. I'm not in any immediate danger." I paused. "Can I come over?"

There was a moment of what I extrapolated was stunned silence.

"That frightening, hmmm?" I made my voice light with some effort.

"I... Do you mean now?"

"Definitely now." Silence again. "If you don't want me to, pretend this phone call never happened. But if you do, I promise you won't regret it. There are some things that I'm even better at than making desserts."

He laughed, albeit nervously. "I've never had your desserts."

"Hmmmm. We should fix that, I think."

"I have to go back into work really early tomorrow..." Jason's voice sounded like he was trying to convince himself, not me. I pretty much had him.

I sighed dramatically, and pretended he had said no. "Okay, then, well-"

He cleared his throat and I stopped, and I wondered how deeply he was blushing. "How soon can you come over?"

Joe pulled up in his orange and black cab. "You're in Alicetown, right? Where exactly are you?"

"2032 Franklin?" I loved how he made it sound like a question, not a fact, as if at that moment he wasn't sure himself exactly where he lived.

"Give me 25 minutes," I said.


Whether that was excitement or wariness in his voice was difficult to tell. I didn't read too much into it, since I was drunk and had other things on my mind. Both as I waited for Joe and got in the cab I thought about Alex, and what the knowledge he was gay did to my perception of our relationship when we were kids.

Like the last time I'd seen him.

Stacy Arenson's party, senior year. My class was two weeks away from graduation, and we were all behaving accordingly, what with acting like drunken assholes and being convinced we were about to magically turn into adults.

Stacy was a cool chick, one of those who could be both a popular female jock and hang out with the weirdos like me, and we had bonded over being stuck in the same particularly horrible but unavoidable pre-calculus class.

She had contracted me, more or less, to make a cake for everyone, but we got so caught up in drinking and being silly and decorating, I never got started. Hours later we were sitting in the living room, hanging out with a weird but comfortable mix of seniors and hangers-on. One of them was Adam, a senior one year removed who went to the local community college and was the first guy I'd ever slept with. Bit greasy and needy, sure, but he followed me around like a puppy and gave pretty good blow jobs.

 Life was good, the future was bright, and we were all future superstars, passing around joints and giggling like idiots. I was getting a bit bored, but nothing too horrible.

And then Sandy and his friends showed up. At that time his closest hangers-on were Royce and Eric, two pretentiously ridiculous assholes in popped collars but with dyed hair; they were going for the 'Edgy bro' look. They all acted like they were god's gifts to women, although I was pretty sure I had once caught Eric checking out my ass at a pool party.

I couldn't decide if they were better or worse than his old best friends in their stylistic dissonance. At least they weren't pure prep, like the guys he'd been tight with since the time he'd dumped my ass.

He caught my eye and nodded, even giving a small smile. I lifted an eyebrow, my usual response - we had spent five strange years circling each other, trying to find peace, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The 'not' times would be like, oh, when he caught me getting a blow job in a parking lot. But I digress. But we had mutual friends, and while I certainly didn't trust him, not after how completely I'd humiliated myself trying to win him back and how utterly he'd devastated and hurt me, but I'd accepted him as part of my world.

Also, he looked fucking amazing. Lean, muscular, that dark thick hair and that fucking hellion's smile on a Greek god's face; ridiculous. I might not have forgiven him, but I sure as hell couldn't deny I was crazy attracted, just as I had been at 12.

As he settled in I tried not to watch him too closely. Senior year he'd made me especially twitchy, as for the first time since, well, ever, he was deviating from his prescribed mode as a trendy smart jock superstar. He'd showed up to school one day in a mohawk, and also started sporting black t-shirts and grungy jeans.

I really liked it, visually, but wondered what was going on. He also started saying hi to me very openly, and I swore he'd have held actual conversations if I hadn't always made sure to run out of there as soon as possible.

And at Stacy's party - he was acting high, which there was no damn way he'd ever put what he considered 'poison' in his body. Would he?  

He couldn't sit still. "What are you doing?" he kept asking, and didn't seem to hear the answers. He took a more-than-healthy pull of the joint. He kept drumming at his knee. And, worst of all? He'd kept looking at me.

"I'm going to make that cake," I said, standing suddenly.

"Awesome, dude!" Someone said, and I think Stacy cheered. I escaped to the safety of the kitchen.

Baking while baked is a very Zen experience, I must say - I recommend everyone try it, although maybe not the first time you smoke. That could be dangerous.

I had entered my zone - the zone of creation and deliciousness - and was humming happily as I whipped through the prep work, getting the cake itself in the oven. I was working on the cream cheese frosting, possibly even dancing to the lounge dance music coming from the living room, when I felt eyes on me.

Turning, I found myself staring at Sandy. There was a moment of very uncomfortable silence.

"Isaac," he'd said in greeting, a smile on his face.

I'd grunted in response, stopped dancing and continued what I was doing, hoping he'd go away. The shirt he was wearing was working a bit too well on him, and it was taking me out of my happy cooking place.

"What are you making?' he pushed off the door frame and moved towards me as I hand-beat the frosting. He leaned forward on the counter across from me, and I kept my eyes purposely on my work.

I said, “I'm making a cake."

"What kind?"

"Red Velvet."

"Like your mother's?"

I tensed up. Who was he to remember my mother's red velvet cake? He didn't deserve that memory. I tried to sound uncaring. "Probably, since she is my mom and all."


The sound of voices and music continued to drift in through the kitchen door, and he was so quiet I was able to almost forget he was there. I dipped my fingers in the frosting and pulled it out, bringing it towards my lips to taste it.

Sandy's hand appeared out of nowhere, grabbing me around the wrist.

As I watched, too high and startled to do anything about it, he pulled my fingers towards his mouth, and those perfect, curvy lips took them right in. I froze dead and was instantly rock hard as he increased pressure and pulled upwards, his tongue darting out to almost clean them, snaking against my skin.

"Hey, dude!" A cheerful voice said happily, and the swinging door came open as Eric bumbled into the room. Sandy lifted his head with the speed of a man who had been smacked on his ass, and my hand flew to my side, the wetness remaining and quickly fading as the only proof of what had just happened.

There was some conversation between the two of them, and Sandy didn't look at me once. They left, and I stood there, stunned, before finishing the worst red velvet cake I'd ever made. I may have added garlic salt, for all I remember.

I didn't see Sandy for ten years, not until that night in The Nickel.

I'd been through what happened enough times to confuse myself. First I told myself I was just really high. Then,  I decided that yes, it most certainly had happened – it was simply that he was the one who was baked off his gourd. But obviously it was a joke, his way of teasing me about being gay, sticking a little knife into the part of me that had been crazy about him.

What else could it mean, right?

The answer to that very old question, it seemed, was he did it because he was high, and he was - is - gay. "Holy shit," I said. Who knows how many times I'd repeated it. The driver was ignoring me.

What else had I missed from those years? I needed to talk to Kim. No way she knew. She would have told me if she knew, right? And what about all those damn girlfriends? Not that those could have been very hard to get and keep at just the right distance, of course, what with his looks.

I couldn't think about it, as it was making my brain break, so I shifted my mind from the gay guy I had been so sure was straight to the bi guy I'd been so initially convinced was gay.

When I got there, 'there' being his small but well maintained house in a nondescript neighborhood, Jason opened the door before I even had a chance to knock. I smiled at him, and he looked at me in a way that was both lascivious and endearingly nervous.

"Hi," I said, and waved.

"Hi," he answered, and flushed. He was wearing old red sweat pants and a plain white T-shirt.

There was a pause, and then, almost as if he had forgotten it was necessary, he motioned me inside.

I stepped in and looked around, and saw it was definitely a bachelor pad, albeit a fairly clean one. The first floor was viewable fully from the door, so I could get a sense of the whole place quite easily. There were books on the wall, an open bottle of beer on the Amish-style coffee table, and ESPN on the TV. There were also, I noticed instantly, a fair collection of spices in his wall-mounted wooden spice rack.

"You cook?" I asked.

"Yes," Jason said when he followed my gaze. He gave a small smile. "Not well, really, but I try. Not as good as you. I mean," he suddenly looked embarrassed. "If you also cook real food, not just desserts. I don't know anything about how that works."

There was a brief flash of darkness in my mind at that reminder of my unforeseen shift in career focus, but I pushed it down as far is it could go, and smiled. "I do know how to cook more than desserts, yes. I did that 5, 6 years before switching to pastry. I am also sure that you're not as bad as you think you are. Most people who know what good food tastes like can also cook good food easily enough. "

"But not at your level."

"No, but like you say - that's different. Professional cooking is different. In a restaurant I try to give people a reason to fork over their hard-earned money. They have to be convinced it's worth it, and so it needs to be special in several different ways. At home, fuck, it doesn't matter what it looks like, how unique a use of rosemary and cow spit it has. If it's tasty, you've succeeded."

"Huh." Jason was watching me, his arms crossed over his chest. He then suddenly smiled. "You get really interesting when you're not trying to be an asshole."

"There ain't no trying, buster. This right here's one hundred percent natural asshole, animal by-product and rBGH free. Accept no substitutes."

"I'd believe it," he said, and that smile widened. Our eyes met, and why I was there, hell, that I was there at all, became loaded with possibility.

Jason looked at his feet before he looked up again, worry emanating from the furrow between his eyebrows. "So why did you call me?" Jason said, looking at me with those blue eyes of his.

"Big picture reason? Because my life is really, really weird right now," I said. Somehow honesty was appealing. "I need to be, no, I want to be distracted. I don't want to think about anything, or worry, or try to fight realities I can't. Smaller picture reason? I want to continue that 'conversation' we started yesterday." He blushed at that, and opened his mouth. I lifted a hand." Just making out sounds good at this point, even just some kissing on your couch before you push me away. I need... distraction, and I genuinely like you, so I thought it'd be great to come here."

"A distraction, huh?" He sighed. "Me just making out with you is no way going to stay just making out, Isaac. For some reason when I'm around you I do things I don't usually do, or shouldn't do."

I stepped closer to him. He watched me nervously, and with an indrawn breath and a tightening of his cheekbones. I liked it, the transmission of desire. "Like push me up against my car in the rain while whispering dirty threats in my ear?" I tilted my head at him. "That was unexpected, and crazy goddamn sexy."

"That could have gotten me fired. It should get me fired."

"Yeah, if I had complained." I stepped forward while watching his chest, suddenly transfixed. It was such a wide, rounded chest, with natural, muscles and solidity that I wanted to nip at. No curly dark hair, stupid, asshole-attached fur, but that certainly wasn't a necessity.  My hands reached out to wrap around his sides and he took a deep, controlling breath in response. It was shaky at best. As my eyes fell I saw he was already getting hard, an outline starting against the cotton sweats. I looked up to his lips, his nose, his cheeks.

The sound of the television wafted through; someone screaming about baseball. That chest rose and fell again, and that outline, harder now, was pressed against mine. I made a pleased noise, and buried my nose around his ear.

"You were out," he said, hands moving around to my ass. "And you've been drinking."  His voice had that harder, cop tone to it, the one that he used when he was more confident and that really turned me on.

"Yeah," I said. I licked his ear and he shuddered as I leaned forward to whisper. "I was at Revolution, flirting with piles of hot guys, dancing, letting them buy me drinks. I lost count." The hands on my ass tightened, and I ground further. I didn't care if his damn grandmother walked into the room at this point: This was going to happen, and any interlopers could fucking watch. "I even kissed one, this fucking beautiful man. He tasted good, really good. But –" I kissed the vein in his muscular neck that had started to throb. "Not as good as you do."

"Dick," he said in a snarl, and mashed his lips into mine as he crushed me with those arms into the door frame that separated his living room and kitchen – glasses rattled. Digging my hands into that short, almost military hair we kissed violently.

I pulled back a very small fraction of an inch. "No girlfriend?"

I could feel the burn of his flushed cheeks. "No girlfriend."

"Excellent. You can fuck me now."

"You are unbelievable," he said, and took me and pushed me in the direction of the couch.

Barring the interrupted last time I had made out with him, the night before, I hadn't made out with a man in a good, long time. The TV blasted behind us as our hands moved and groped all over, and I got down to giving that chest of his the attention it certainly deserved. His skin was soft above those hard muscles, and I swear I could smell his erection through his skin. My sense of smell, like my sense of taste, was complex and deeply refined, and as he fell down the rabbit hole of lust with me I could taste the sweat that came with it.

As we kissed, his form a bit sloppy and endearingly inconsistent but tasty and heartfelt, his roaming was less confident than mine, more surprised and hesitant as he felt up my torso, my thighs, my legs.

And then the switch came, as that turned-on sweat taste hit a peak. His body got tighter, his muscles tensed, and with a noise he grabbed me and pulled me closer. I took his shirt off, he took mine, and my fingers danced. When they touched his erection he made a noise that was obviously a good sign.

And suddenly we were standing up again, and he was pulling me towards his bedroom. We stumbled upwards and I kept grabbing his ass - you'd understand if you'd seen it, it was really grabbable - and then we were in his bedroom. Blue and masculine with photographs on the wall and clothes on the floor and me on the bed.

Jason crouched over me and I leaned forward, kissing his stomach. He growled, and before he could do anything else I pulled those red sweat pants down and took in his cock in one quick movement, running my tongue up his length, teasing and pulling back and going down again.

He made some very pleasing unintelligible noises above me and grabbed my hair, burying his fingers in the longer parts.

I lifted my head and gave him a Cheshire's grin, letting my fingers give him a quick stroke.

"You're too good at that," he said in a growl.

"What's 'too' good? I grinned up at him . “Is there such a thing as being too good when it comes to hand and blow jobs?"

"With you, yes."

I laughed, and pulled him down on top of me, getting him to get completely rid of those sweats and his boxers. Oh, the hot cop naked was everything I had dreamed about and more that moment he had crashed into the cafe, his dress shirt straining over his perfect muscles. Or when I had more of him in the gym, those rounded pectorals straining as he lifted weights, the sweat dripping down that Scandinavian skin of his.

He was working on my belt buckle as I ran my hands over his chest, playfully tapping the separate muscles of his abdomen. "You would be one of the world's most successful gay sluts if you let yourself, you know. You could charge for admission."

His hands stopped. "Did you really just suggest I would make a successful gay escort?"

I grinned. "Yes."

"Isaac..." I was going to laugh but he practically ripped the jeans away and crushed me with the weight of his body and an angry kiss. I really liked his angry kisses, they tasted like Burt's Bees and testosterone.

We rolled and I dug my fingers into the back of his shoulders, feeling the hard muscles and wanting to dig deeper. His erection dug into my leg and he reached out for mine. I squirmed as his fingers wrapped around me and pulled.

Suddenly I was on top of him, straddling those legs and rubbing our cocks together. He opened his legs and lifted his hips, and I tilted my head at him, getting the hint. "Want me to top?"

He looked slightly, oddly embarrassed. I'd seen it before, manly men who weren't completely comfortable with being bottoms. It made him even fucking sexier than he already was, as impossible as it seemed.

"You okay with that?" he said, and he flushed.

"Oh, yes." I leaned over and kissed his knee, my fingers running down his cock to his asshole. "Both roles make me happy." My finger gently poked at his ring, and he twitched. I smiled. "When was the last time you were fucked?"

He wouldn't look me in the eye, until I moved my finger again and there was another twitch. "Couple of years ago."

"That is such a fucking turn on," I said, my voice awed, running my hands down his muscular legs. "Incredibly beautiful man and he hasn't been fucked in fucking forever."

"You love embarrassing me, don't you?" His voice said he was angry, his cock said my words were turning him on.

"With the rewards it sows? Fuck, yes, I do." I used my deep intuition to open the bedside table drawer and saw a tube of lube, unopened. "For me?" I grinned as I straightened again, opened it and ripped off the tab with my teeth before spitting it on the floor. The taste of chemicals hit my taste buds, and I loved it. "That's so sweet - You shouldn't have."

"Freak," he said. "I've had that for a bit."

"And I get to pop its cherry." He snorted in response, but his attempts to be macho weren't fooling anyone.

I poured it over my fingers as he watched me nervously. I stared right into his eyes as I reached down and slowly pushed one finger into his tight ring of muscle. He jerked violently, pressing his head into the pillow.

Was there anything hotter than taking control of a very masculine, sexy guy? A guy who could, under most circumstances, probably kick my ass? I might be fast, but judging by those muscles and what I saw him lift in the gym, he was epically strong. For all my drama and problems, at that particular moment, life was good. Life was more than good - it was fucking incredible.

And as I pushed my hard cock into his tight, willing ass and those selfsame muscles flexed and pushed against me, life got even better.

"Relax," I said to him, giving him a small smile, and as I pushed myself further inside him leaned over to kiss one broad, delicious knee. "It's like riding a bike."

"More like being ridden like a bike," he said, with a quirked side of his mouth and a hitched, exhaled breath as I started to stroke into him in response. I watched him as I did so, continuing to murmur at him to relax, push against me, simply enjoy it… and he began to, the pain flipping over as the grimace on his face became a flushed expression of pleasure and what I saw as my cue to move harder, faster, pumping into that perfect round ass with precision as one of his hands clutched at the bed and he began to arch, pushing his prostate against my onslaught and calling out "Isaac" like both a reproach and a prayer. 

I held myself back, made myself go slow until I couldn't any longer, came inside him groaning, clutching those knees, my world exploding in pleasure and listening to him yell as I jerked into him with fast, wicked strokes.

I took a deep breath as I came down, the pleasure washing over me. God, between the alcohol and the fucking I could really, really take some sleep. But my job wasn't done, of course. I reached out and wrapped my hand around his cock, not withdrawing as I pumped him expertly, staring into his eyes as he very quickly got rock hard, and then came all over my hands and his chest, impressive amounts of hot cum going everywhere.

"Oh, fuck," He said, breathing, eyes closed. "Oh, fuck."

I pulled out of him as he winced, and laughed as he swore again. "Liked that, did you?"

Jason's lips tightened in that particular way of his, that way that showed that I had rubbed him the wrong way. I did enjoy doing that. "Let me get something to clean us up." He said, his voice gruff, and rolled off the bed, wincing. Something sharp and wicked was on the tip of my tongue, but I could tell that he was feeling at the edge of his particular vulnerability cliff, and I should probably refrain from pushing him over it. If he'd only fucked women for the last two years in traditional hetero-normative scenarios, I suppose it shouldn't  surprise me he was no longer used to being the fuckee.

So I kept quiet and waited until he reappeared with paper towel, wet wipes, and actual towels before disappearing into the bathroom. When he came out I gave him a smile and took his place and cleaned myself up.

When I came out Jason was lying on the bed, and I was pleased to see him give me a small smile, albeit a somewhat nervous one. "How you doing?" I asked as I crawled on the bed. "That wasn't too much, I hope."

"No," he shook his head. More delicious blushing. "It was good. It was really good."

"Great." I laid down on my stomach, and closed my eyes. Oh, damn, I was tired. All this dancing and fucking was a lot to expect from an old man of 29.

Who was I kidding? It was fantastic. It was exactly the night I had needed, and I hadn't thought about Alex in at least 45 minutes.

Oh, fuck, and there the twink pounding fucker was, dancing around my brain. Ah, well. It was a good run.

"What's this one for?" I opened my eyes. Jason was suddenly closer, leaning over me and pointing one masculine finger at my upper right shoulder that was now tracing my skin. I took 'this one' to mean the Japanese characters tattooed where he was touching.

"'Bariuma'," I said in a muffled voice, flexing my muscles in pleasure. "It means 'very delicious' in the Japanese dialect of one of my mentors. Guy taught me a lot."

"Did he?" There was that possessive growl that showed up now and then, utterly out of the blue.

I looked back at him to wrinkle my nose. "Not like that, silly man." Now, the Japanese guy I worked for last, that was a different story. But he didn't need to know that.

"Hm," he said, as if he sensed there was more to it than I was telling him. "Well." I felt him settle in next to me, his large body sinking into the mattress. "It fits."

I smiled at the compliment, and started to drift off.

"You're trouble."

I lifted my head from the pillow. "What?" I wasn't sure I had heard him correctly, since he'd said the words pretty quietly.

"I said you're trouble."

"This again, huh? You're back to thinking I'm a dangerous, two-bit hood, Officer?" I was joking, but Jason's expression was oddly serious.

"Not in that way."

"Not in any way." I snorted weakly and laid my head down, the post-sex haze and the fading alcohol pulling me quickly under and drowned any introspection those words might normally have set me off on.

And then I remembered that there were things I'd like to talk to Jason about, things I keep forgetting in his presence but that were actually quite important to me. My drunken brain then decided now was just the perfect time to bring certain matters up.

"Hey, can I ask you something?"

"Sure." His voice didn't sound overly pleased about the prospect, which was entertaining, as he had just asked me a rather personal question and then flirtatiously told me I was trouble.

"So... Is there organized crime in Marrington?" I gave it a good, solid amount of time for him to answer, and there was silence. And then suddenly I felt embarrassed, and stupid for asking the question. He didn't want to answer questions, and now he wasn't going to do so. Whatever comfort we'd had seemed to have flown out the window.

I didn't turn around as I wasn't sure I wanted to see his face. Also, the question was supposed to be casual, and it was possible my face would give away how serious I'd been. An additional issue was that it wasn't exactly a casual thing to ask. Oh, god, I probably shouldn't have asked it all, but tiredness and drunkenness had made it seem like a good idea. Some time where we were somewhere already having a conversation and I could bring up the town, casually say I'd heard some things about it that made me laugh, he could ask 'oh, like what?' while giving me that slightly nervous smile of his.

But no. Impatience was one of my many bad traits, and it had bit me in the ass again.

Flailing, I attempted to fill the silence. "I mean, I'm sure this is a stupid question. It's just a rumor I heard from some people." 'Some people'. Yeah. That was completely authentic sounding and convincing.

"Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. You know. I always thought of this place as such a sleepy little town, boring little Marrington, and that there's this criminal syndicate, I mean, it's so ridiculous, right?" I laughed, uncomfortably. My chin rested on my arms but I was not looking at him, keeping my eyes firmly on the chilly blue walls.

"I'm not sure how to answer that." His voice was firm, bored, almost. A beat, then two, and several more passed, where I hoped he was going to say more. Somehow I had thought that despite it being a strange question, he was going to try to answer it.

I couldn't have told you why I lost my confidence right there, why I didn't try to prompt Jason to speak by telling him about my situation, about what Kim had gotten us caught up in. Later I saw that it was because after the intimacy of sex, and the fact I did indeed rather like the man, I was exhausted and already disappointed at the chill I had caused in the air. He wasn't going to tell me a thing.

With an inner sigh I put my head down. The discomfort probably wasn't as bad as I was making it. Of course it wasn't. I was just tired, and overwhelmed by everything.  Maybe after some sleep I could wake up and seduce him and recreate that atmosphere of friendly sexiness and –

"Hey," Jason's voice said, and I lifted my head to look at him, startled by how loudly and firmly he had spoken. He was sitting up against his pillows, and wasn't looking directly at me. "I have to get up in less than two hours…" His voice trailed off and the embarrassment in his expression increased twofold. He looked much younger, actually, the puppy eyes, slight redness in his cheeks and pursed lips bringing out the boyish aspect of his Scandinavian features.

I blinked at him for a moment, waiting for him to finish that sentence, before I got it.

He wanted me to leave. After our lovely fucking and comfortable afterward conversation which I had successfully jettisoned, I was being unceremoniously booted. Huh.

Something in me was tempted to throw a fit. Needless to say I was capable of one. But fuck, I was burnt out. The day and now the night had been long, and after dancing, drinking, learning my former crush was gay and fucking a cop my reserves of spunk and obnoxious spark were empty.

Without responding and a stifled sigh I reached down next to the bed, snagged my pants, and, fished my cell out of the pocket. I called up the last number dialed. He picked up quickly.

"Joe? Hi. Isaac again – you still on shift? Yeah? Great. 15 is perfect. I'll meet you on the corner."

I hung up, rolled back over and closed my eyes. With a deep breath, every cell screaming in complaint that I was even considering motion, I heaved myself upwards and quickly pulled up my pants. I gave what I hope was a warm and accepting smile while looking at him out of the corner of my eyes. "Sorry about that, I'd forgotten you had to get up so early. Didn't mean to get comfortable."

"I didn't mean you had to leave right away, I -"

"Don't worry about it." Not only did not I not want to hear it, I figured he was lying. That's totally what he was suggesting, as  there had been no warm undertone of regret with a side of suggested goodbye cuddling in his dismissal. I was sure wanted my skinny ass on the street.

After pulling on my socks and then shoes, I stood and straightened everything out. Jason started to lift himself off the bed and I shook my head. "No, you need your sleep. Get what you can. Sorry to keep you up." Now I was the one guilty of fibbing, although I didn't feel bad for it.

I walked to the bedroom door and finally turned around to look at him, where he had put his feet on the floor but not stood up completely. This was because, from what I could tell, he was too embarrassed to be completely naked. That would usually entertain the hell out of me, seeing as I had just fucked his ass red and raw.  I gave a little smile, and a wave. "Night. Thanks."

He opened his mouth to say something, but I moved too quickly to let him.

And then I was downstairs, out the door, and hit by the still-humid night air.

"Whatever," I said as I stomped to the corner. My voice was initially a mutter. "Whatever, whatever, fucking whatever." The last 'whatever' was louder than I intended, and I looked around, hoping I didn't wake anyone in Jason's sleepy little neighborhood.

But, yeah. Whatever. Whatever to Jason and his embarrassment about fucking a fag like me. Not just a fag, hell, that might not have been the major problem – a fag he quite possibly actively disliked despite his physical attraction. Fuck that complicated shit.

And whatever to Sandy-slash-fucking-Alex, with his goddamn homosexuality and the fact it destroyed everything I knew about him way back when and meant much of my emotional reality from ages 12 to 18 was a complete lie. Like that time he'd caught me giving a blow job – I thought his reaction was disgust, horror. What had he been really thinking then? What had he been really thinking when he and his friends had bullied me, called me a fat homo and made me cry?

Joe was only 5 minutes late, and we rode back in silence. Everything caught up to me in that 25 minutes, and I was so beyond tired my mental state was something of a trance.

I must have dozed off before we arrived because Joe's voice startled me awake. I tipped him with outrageous generosity and stumbled to my door, deciding a shower could fucking wait.

And then I stopped.

I stared at my front door, on which "Choose Sides or Die, Fag" was spray-painted in a nice, lurid purple. Lovely.  I'm sure Kim's friend's Landlord would love me for this one. I swore, fiddled with my keys, and decided the slight shake in my hands was because of how tired I was, not the threat.

In the moment figuring it was some sort of weird statement by Robbie, or a fuck you by the same punks who had attacked Kim's café. Those were the vague, confused, angry thoughts in my head as I fell asleep.

But when I woke up the next day after a bizarre and disturbing set of dreams where I was fucking Jason while being fucked by Alex – if that's not the state of my sexual mental life in one fucked up package, I don't know what is – I found myself swirling, and more than a bit afraid. Robbie was a dickhead and a psycho, but I'd not yet seen any signs of disloyalty.

So who the fuck was The Other Side?

Unfortunately, I found out the answer to that one fairly quickly.

Part 7