It’s nearly 1 o’clock by the time you come out of the airport at Ibiza. The flight from Madrid was almost an hour late and for the first time since you left Pittsburgh last evening you’re genuinely glad you didn’t have any luggage. It only took ten minutes for you to clear customs and ten more minutes to visit the local bureaux de change to get some cash in local currency and now you’re standing outside the glass doors, in front of the parking lot, squinting into the sunny, clear day.
The air is crisp and windy, the sun hot on your back, and you’re just beginning to wonder where you should be headed next when you’re startled to hear your name called.
You look at the man approaching you. He has a stocky built with medium height and light brown hair, and he’s holding a card with your name printed on it. “Mr. Brian Kinney?” He asks again as he reaches the steps, his eyes eager on your face.
You nod. “That would be me.”
“Ah, Gracias!” A smile breaks on his tanned face. “I was told I could not miss a face like yours in a crowd of millions, but I did not realize how true that would be.” He looks at you appreciatively as he offers his hand to shake. “I am Alejandro Rodas. I am to be your guide for the day.”
“My guide?” You look him over from head to toe, as you shake his hand—oh yes, definitely gay, but not your type—and lift your brow in enquiry. “And who sent you?”.
He grins. “Now, Mr. Kinney, you know better than to ask a question like that.” There isn’t a hint of any discernible accent in his speech. You figure he must spend a lot of time guiding visitors from the US. He looks at the laptop in your hand. “Is that your luggage? All of it?”
“Yes.” You look at him.
“Well, then, you must come with me. Your car is waiting for you right here.” He tries to take the case from your hands but your grip is firm, your fingers tight around the handle.
He stops and stares at you—your eyes intent on his face, as you stand unmoving on top of the stairs—and then he smiles. “Please, Mr. Kinney. You are here, so I judge that you trusted the instincts that brought you here. Trust them a little more.” He gestures with a hand. “Your car is waiting for you. You are tired from your flight. I am sure you want to rest. Please, come with me. Your… friend has your trip planned out to the last detail—with a special focus on your comfort.”
You feel your tongue poke the inside of your cheek. Your friend, huh? Planning out a trip for you, and that too till the last detail? Hmm. This ought to be interesting.
You finally relent with a nod and let Alejandro lead you to the silver grey Honda Civic Coupe, parked in a shaded section of the parking lot, the laptop still in your hand. He opens the backdoor for you and you settle inside the cool, plush interior, as he takes the driver’s seat and turns the key in the ignition.
You stretch your legs, sighing in relief, as the car moves out of the airport and onto the long stretch of road that will take you to your destination. You’re going to Ibiza Town, to your hotel, Alejandro informs you, and the ride will take somewhere around forty-five minutes, depending upon the traffic. It is moderate this time of the year, he tells you, as you stare out the window—not quite tourist season yet.
Tall palm trees fringe the sides of the road, their drooping fronds throwing their shadows on the car as it passes underneath them, and from between them come the dazzling rays of the bright Mediterranean sun, blinding you, spreading its warmth all around.
The scenery becomes a blur and Alejandro’s voice is a dull drone at the back of your mind, as you lean back on your seat and—for the first time since yesterday—truly feel yourself relax.
It’s been a long day, and you should be exhausted and worn out with fatigue from your long mind-numbing trip, but you feel strangely animated. He called you and you’re here, and despite your general nonchalant disposition, you seriously can’t wait to see how this pans out—where this long, winding road, lined by the palm trees on both sides, will finally lead you.
It’s two fifteen pm by the time Alejandro leaves you in your hotel room with a stack of brochures and maps on the side table, which he says have specifically been left for you by your ‘friend’, and a promise that he’ll check on you again at four thirty pm.
You shrug out of your jacket and tie and shirt and your first instinct is to fall into the large lush, king-sized bed—thank you, four-star hotels—and fall asleep. But you see the sun coming in through the partially opened blinds and instead walk to the window to close them, when you notice the sea. The hotel is located right on the Figueretas beach. You smile. No big surprise there. It’s the gay mecca of the Ibiza Island, with close proximity to all the biggest gay bars, clubs and discotheques in the city. Someone had obviously been busy googling gay tourist destinations.
Although you caught the glimpse of the ocean on your way through the streets, watching it directly beneath the eighth floor window of your hotel room is quite another experience. The water is sparkling blue and clear and seems to spread endlessly in all directions. The white sand on the small private crescent-shaped beach is beautiful, with the occasional hotel guests scattered here and there under colorful beach umbrellas. Alejandro was right—it’s not as crowded this time of the year as you’d dreaded.
You take a deep breath of the crisp, salty sea breeze, and feel your tiredness surprisingly ebb away. Not having eaten anything since last night, however, you are famished, and could do with something nice and filling.
But first you need to get clean. You stink.
You look around the room. Neat, clean, crisp lines used in the décor. Subtle blue shades—understated and comfortable and luxurious looking. Nice large bathroom with a sunken bath and a large shower to accompany it. Hmm. Nice. You could enjoy this later on. But Alejandro said something about a Jacuzzi and spa facilities a floor below and you would like to check them out.
You turn around and start taking off the rest of your clothes, and as you’re piling them on the bed, you suddenly realize you have nothing to wear. For a split moment, you are frozen in mid-movement, utterly dumbfounded with shock. What the fuck are you doing? You’ve come here with no luggage, no clothes and you didn’t even stop on your way to the hotel to buy a fucking thing. The least you could’ve done was buy some clothes, you huff, as you kick off the pants and turn around to face the closet area. Your teeth on edge, you step forward to the closet and yank the doors open.
The closet is filled with clothes. Shirts and pants and jackets. For just a nanosecond, you wonder if the last occupants left their stuff behind. But then you notice the white striped shirt and go, what the fuck? You pull it out and stare at it in amazement. It’s Armani, in your size, and looks very much like the shirt you have at home. And then you notice—whatthefuck—the slate gray Prada jacket—which looks far too familiar to be a coincidence—and stare at the white silk Armani dress shirt, the black wifebeater, and—fuckingfuck—the brown half-sleeved pinstripes—all very much like the ones you have at home, and you know you’ve been robbed.
By your lover.
Christ, he must’ve taken them all with him when he left three—no, make that four—days ago. Fucker had been planning this for a while, hadn’t he? And you didn’t even notice any of it missing.
You feel the corners of your lips twitching at the comedy of the situation as you dig out your cell-phone and stare at the screen. No missed calls. Nothing. You shake your head. Well, all right then. You can take it easy, if that’s what he wants.
You reach out to take the long white bathrobe hanging on one side of the closet and put it on, and then you walk out of your hotel room to explore the spa facilities.
It’s four forty six pm, as you step off of the elevator, walk out the hotel lobby and into the street. Alejandro had asked if you wanted to be taken around the city in the car but you had declined. The Town Centre is only a few minutes walk from the hotel and you want to explore it on foot.
After the exquisitely long and relaxing Jacuzzi bath in the steam room, and the hearty lunch you ordered through room service, you were out like a light and didn’t wake up until twenty minutes ago. Whatever exhaustion you had left over from your flight is gone now and you’re ready to do some serious exploring. Well, as much exploring as you can do on your own with a map full of circled destinations marked specifically for your reference.
Los Molinos. Don Quijote. Black Rose Strip Club. Café Hoak’s. Principe. Monroe’s.
Your eyes once again go to the only entry with the time marked around it. Passion’s eye. A small bar outside the Ibiza Playa hotel. 8:00 pm.
Oh, yeah. That certainly looks like a well-mapped out trip to you—all planned out to the last fucking detail. But you’re determined to make your own way. You picked up a few additional brochures from the hotel information desk and there’s a lot there that wasn’t on this list. Just to be contrary, you have to make sure to hit a few spots that aren’t there. There’s over three hours for you to while away after all.
You haven’t taken many vacations in your life but this was a city you had wanted to explore for a long, long time.
Ibiza. The paradise on earth of every fag’s dreams.
The one place on earth you actually made bets to bring him to. Back in the days when you thought you could influence his career choices, for his own good. You’d been amused because he’d lost the bet that you’d thought you had won, but as it turned out you hadn’t actually won anything after all.
You were dying. You were scared and alone and confused and you thought it was all over.
At which point, this wonderful, perfect paradise became the one place on earth you decided to come to end it all at.
But he stopped you at every point, at every corner. Every turn you made, every window you looked out of, there was a part of him entrenched in your being, in your senses, in such a way that you couldn’t even take a breath without feeling a piece of him inside you. You couldn’t part from him, you couldn’t walk away from him. You tried and you failed. He was everywhere.
And here you are now—alive and well and whole again. Well, as whole as one can be with a fake ball. But the day is bright and the sun is shining and you can’t get enough of the narrowly winding, beautiful cobblestone streets, as you walk the path he has apparently set you on. He’s out there somewhere, waiting for you, talking to you in his own mystifying way. And people think he’s easy and you’re the mysterious one. You snort. He’s the most difficult, the most fascinatingly stubborn man you’ve ever encountered in your whole life.
You realize you have been walking around for sometime when you find yourself standing on the corner of Ramon y Tur and Rambau. You look around the street: Spanish signboards, Spanish voices, and beautiful old age aesthetics in the architecture all around you. On your left, there is a cozy lime-colored structure with stuccowork that has been transformed into a small bistro, the strong aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting from its interior. A few feet from it is a tiny bar with real wooden swinging doors and the sign Casa De la Ginebra hanging on the front. At a distance, you see a street musician playing a melancholy tune on his guitar for a constantly moving audience of foreigners and locals alike.
You’re torn between entering the bistro for coffee and the bar for a shot of gin, when you notice an English sign on a glass door at a short distance: Arizona Leather Shop. A smile breaks on your face. Well, that sounds interesting. You secure your map and brochures in their envelope, and shove your hands in your pockets, as you jog down the street towards your first stop.
You hand your packages to the girl at the front desk, as she reassures you that your belongings will indeed be safe while you tour the Galería. You don’t even know why you chose to come to a museum at all. All you know is that you had lost track of how long you had been walking, and how many shops on how many different streets you had scoured—and actually found stuff to buy—when you came across this big, old, walled fortress, built on a rocky, sandy headland—a web of scraggy dirt paths leading to its side gates.
The D’alt Villa.
If you hadn’t read about this popular gay cruising ground in the brochures, you would’ve probably turned around and walked back to the hotel. But curiosity got the better of you and you decided to explore.
Well, it was a gay mecca, all right. Hundreds of men walking around, holding hands; half naked guys making out in the streets, along the dirt tracks, and on the rocky beaches. This place couldn’t be more gay-friendly even if it tried. You got cruised by beautiful golden-skinned men on every street corner and felt a familiar thrill spread through you. You don’t need to be King Stud of Liberty Avenue to be appreciated anywhere else. Here, in this place, where no one knows you, you are beautiful and young and desired.
That was when you saw the sign, Galería Van der Voort, and without even thinking, walked right inside.
It is a small quaint gallery filled with beautiful contemporary pieces by artists you don’t really recognize, though there are some familiar names you see on some illustrations. Having an artist for a lover has the advantage of educating one in contemporary art history by proxy. All those books on Modern and Contemporary Art he tended to leave scattered around the loft—you have leafed through them on more than one occasion.
Besides, you took Art History as a minor during your sophomore year. You have always had an eye for good art—and he knows it—not to mention, it’s an almost requirement in your chosen field. It’s not merely a coincidence that the two of you see eye to eye on so many things.
The offerings at this exhibit seem to be a mix of modern and abstract pieces, with no apparent discernable theme to them. Many of them seemingly have been done by local, young artists, for there is a large crowd of young art-types hovering around the gallery—discussing the merits and cons of the presentations.
You are studying a beautiful watercolor illustration of an Ibiza sunset, appreciating the vivid burning shades of red and yellow and gold that the artist has spattered across the canvas, when you catch a glimpse of blond hair on a slight lean frame in the periphery of your vision. For a split second, you think it’s another instance of wishing-he-was-here that you had at the airport, when you turn your head around and look at the man’s profile, and freeze.
He’s wearing the white shirt and black trousers you bought for him last month. His face is animated as he speaks to a tall, lean, dark-haired man who leans an arm across his shoulder and laughs. And you feel a sudden unexpected thrust of burning hot jealousy strike you in your guts. Who the fuck is this guy? And who the fuck does he think he is to be touching him? It only lasts a moment, enough to rattle you, and then is gone—because, suddenly, he’s turning around and moving towards the exit.
“Justin!” You move as well, calling out to him, pushing through the crowd to make your way towards him.
But in the din of the horde, he doesn’t hear you.
“JUSTIN!” you call out louder this time but he’s already out of the room, and you’re moving through the crowd faster now, almost running, and then you’re out of the room and he isn’t anywhere. Fuck. He isn’t anywhere.
You rush out of the gallery exit and look for him on the street but he’s nowhere to be seen in the crowd. You hurry to the adjacent street, thinking perhaps he turned left to make his way towards the fort gates, but he’s not there. He’s not there.
You return to the gallery and get your packages from the front desk storage, and there you see the man who had been talking to him. Now that you can see him clearly, you realize he’s one of the gallery managements. Keeping the gallery visitors happy is obviously part of his job, you snort. You can’t believe how quickly you had jumped to the worst conclusion—even if it was just for a split second—simply because you’d seen another man touch your lover—in a completely non-threatening way no less.
You look at your watch. You would honestly feel embarrassed if you weren’t in such a hurry to get out of here.
It’s seven thirty pm. It’s time to head back to the hotel and change.
Like any other gay bar you’ve been to, it’s filled with cruisers and the cruised. The players and the played. You don’t see a lot of trolls here, but then Ibiza is famous for its beautiful men. Thumping music blares out of the loud speakers, as you lean back against the bar and watch the crowd.
There’s a pool table on top of which instead of pool, a whole other game is being played, between a tall Hispanic, a tightly muscled Nordic—who’s a bottom, you decide—and a medium height Asian. The name of the game is full-blown Foreplay. It involves tongue and teeth and three pairs of groping hands. One pair pushes, the other pulls and the third grabs, and you watch, amused, as the clothes slowly get shed and the crowd hoots the three as more and more skin is revealed. There doesn’t seem to be any apparent censure against nudity in this part of the Island. Very interesting.
Gay Paradise, indeed.
The booze isn’t all that bad either, you realize, as you down the second shot of Tequila and order a third. You suppose there was a reason he chose this place.
But where the fuck is he? It’s eight seventeen pm. He’s already late.
A tall brown-haired man slides up next to you at the bar and eyes you interestingly. You look him up curiously, he’s all right, and return to your drink.
He watches you a moment and then asks with a thick accent. “You an American?” Hmm. British, perhaps.
You smack your lips together to suck on the salt left from the drink and then shrug at him. “What do you think?”
“I think you are the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” he smiles.
You smile at him virtuously. “Now, that’s a first.”
He doesn’t get the sarcasm and puts his hand on your shoulder, suddenly eager for action. “How about you and I dance to this beautiful music?”
Oh, that’s nice. But unfortunately, he’s not the one you want to dance with.
“Fuck off,” you tell him as you shove his hand off and turn away from the bar.
“Fucking Americans.” You hear him mutter but you’re no longer paying attention. You’re looking at your watch—which is slowly ticking away—searching the crowd—still showing no sign of him, where the fuck is he?—and then, you’re looking out the windows, where the slowly fading sunlight is playing multihued tricks with the glinted cut glass.
The sun is about to set. You think of the painting you were looking at in the gallery right before you caught a glimpse of him, and realize you want to see it for yourself. You want to see a real Ibiza sunset.
Making your way through the crowd, you step out of the bar and walk across the patio to the section where there are railings fixed on the deck, looking over the sandy beach below. There are a few men scattered under a few canopied sections of the beach, but your eyes are on the sea and on the sun slowly dipping down to touch the horizon. You find the stairs and climb down to the beach, walking across the cool sand and into the water—your gaze lifted up to the sky.
It’s an amazing sight.
The sun is sinking into the sea right before your eyes, but the whole world seems alight with a smoldering blend of pink and orange. You look up at the sky as the curtain of light slowly mingles into the fading blue and then begins to merge into a canopy of approaching darkness. It’s as if someone has splashed a pot of black paint on a canvas of burning bright orange. That’s how the sky looks, splattered with darkness and shadowy hues and yet unable to push away the flamboyant pink and orange tints from the slowly sinking sun.
You hear the call of the seagulls as they rise from the sea, and you stare at the sky, and at the sun—dying before your very eyes, and yet, leaving behind this colossal, endless swirl of color spinning across the heavens.
Death and shades of burning life—all in the same instance.
This was the place you’d wanted to come to die at. This place that is so full of life and so teeming with splendid, beautiful nature.
And he brought you here. He brought you here.
You smell the spicy, sharp scent of his Dolce and Gabbana before his shoulder brushes yours. And suddenly, you feel lightheaded—your eyes are on the sky, your throat tight as you try to swallow a lump that was not there a moment ago. You feel the cool breeze lift your hair as the world falls away from you, leaving only his scent, his heat, his presence next to you. You close your eyes for a moment, reveling in the absolute stillness of this perfect moment, breathing in the salt from the air, and then open them once more, exhaling.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” His voice is soft, as if he too is afraid to break the quiet.
You find yourself smiling at the setting sun. “Yeah.” You look at him, taking in his white beach shirt flapping in the breeze and the silk trousers accentuating lean hips. “Beautiful.”
Yes, he is. More beautiful than anything you’ve ever seen. He’s here and he’s real and you’re not a fool. No, never a fool. You lift your hand and touch the side of his face and watch as his eyes glint in the fading light. The retreating sunlight seems to gather into his hair, turning them even more golden. And then he’s winding his hand around your neck, as you take him in your arms and look deep into his eyes—pressing your forehead against his and your lips against his mouth, just breathing him in.
“Brian,” he murmurs against your lips, his eyes wide with something akin to surprise, as he looks at you. “What?” He holds your face in his palms and stares into your eyes. You have no idea what he sees on your face—amazement? Wonder, perhaps? “My God”? he gasps. “Did you… Brian, did you actually think I wouldn’t come?”
And suddenly you’re laughing at his awe, at his naiveté, as you wind your arms around his body, bring him closer to you and kiss him hard. Silly boy, you sigh against his lips, of course you knew he’d come. He called you, didn’t he? Just like he knew you’d come. After all you’ve been through with him, could it ever be possible that he’d call you and you wouldn’t show up? That he’d call you and then abandon you?
The water laps at your feet as you stand on the beach, holding him tight in your arms, your lips moving against his, your tongue exploring his mouth. You hear him moan, feel the sudden hitch to his breath that makes your dick hard. And then you have to grip his hips and realign them to your own, rubbing your groin against his as he clasps your neck and kisses you back, harder, his teeth nipping at your lips, his sighs filling your throat.
And all at once you have to have him. Right here, right now. You walk him backwards until you notice a beach blanket underneath your feet and an awning above your head and then you’re lowering him to the sand and the water, moving to cover his body. His hands pull at your clothes, his eyes glittering at you and his lips parting, as you peel off his shirt and pants and mould against him. He brings your head down to kiss you again, his lips moving against your mouth, your face, your neck.
You smooth your hands against his sides, feel his fingers run through your hair, and sigh. “Justin…”
His hands glide down your back and he rubs himself against you urgently, his cock jutting against your belly—hot and wet on your skin. You slide down his body, your tongue laving a path down his neck and chest and stomach and you feel the rumble of his groan against your mouth.
“Brian…” His fingers wrap around your hair, as he guides your head down to his cock –obviously eager for attention. You humor him for a second, flicking your tongue to taste the precum leaking from the slit and dropping a sucking kiss over the head, before sliding up to his chest again where you nip his nipples one by one—soothing the bites with cool swipes of your tongue.
“Brian,” he chokes, as you drop nipping kisses over his stomach and dip your tongue into his navel, making him thrust against your chest. “Please…”
For a moment you think he wants you to go down on him again, but then there’s a condom in his hand, and a tube of lube that he drops on the blanket next to his feet. You look into his eyes twinkling in the dark, his tongue peeking out to touch his lips. You grip his hands, feel his pulse flickering beneath your thumb, and move up to kiss him once more. His fingers soothe your back, as you find the lube and slowly prepare him, all the time keeping your eyes on his face.
Oh, but he’s exquisite this way, you think, as he tears open the wrapper and slides the condom on you. Fucking exquisite, you sigh. And then you’re lifting his legs onto your shoulders and in one sure stroke, sinking inside him, into his heat—your lips closing over his, swallowing his groans into your own mouth.
He grunts as he grips your ass with his palms and lunges against you, pulling in your cock even further and you’re helpless with your groans and your cries, as you drive into him harder, faster, deeper.
“Justin…” You lean down to claim his mouth once more—his tongue pushing inside to taste himself, his teeth raking against your upper lip, his nails scouring your back. You pant against his mouth and bring one hand down to grip his cock, the other moving up to flick his nipples. You watch his breathing quicken and his body tense and then suddenly, he arches against you as he comes—sobbing and moaning and shuddering in your arms.
You last merely a few more seconds, as his internal muscles clamp down on your own cock, and then you too are coming, gripping him hard, shaking against his body. With a moan, you collapse on top of him and feel his arms close around you. You sink your face into his neck and breathe in his sweat and skin and feel his fingers rubbing circles below your neck.
“Justin,” you sigh against his face and smile as you feel his lips moving against your forehead.
“Brian,” he murmurs and holds you tight.
And you know everything is right with the universe.
“We needed to get away, Brian.” His tone is completely serious as he leans back against your chest and takes a sip from his drink. The two of you came back to the hotel room to clean up and are now sitting on the floor of the small terrace, enjoying the view of the beach below.
You nuzzle his ear as you pick up a piece of peach and feed it to him. “You could’ve just told me.”
“Yeah, I know, but… I wanted it like this. The agency didn’t have a problem if I started a little late, so I told them three weeks.” He sighs. “I wanted to do it like this, Brian. We’ve never gone on a vacation together.” There’s wistfulness in his voice that makes your throat tighten, and he senses your tenseness—incorrectly, however. “No, don’t say it. I know you’ve wanted to take me on a number of occasions—but it’s never happened. Something always seemed to happen to throw our plans off. Something always… fucked things up.”
Yeah, like me?—you want to ask him. You know the moments he is talking about without taking a single name. It’s the White Party, and the Vermont trip, and the cancelled LA visit—all the things that thwarted your plans, fucked with what you had, or could’ve had with him. It’s about Chicago and violin music and Ibiza and Johns Hopkins. It’s about sickness and fears, about truth and lies and separations that have taken both of you away from each other—time and again.
“It was never intentional, Justin,” you tell him, always the realist. “Things happen. Sometimes you just can’t control them.”
“And sometimes you just do.” He kisses your neck. “Like this trip. This was totally intentional.”
You smile. “Yeah. You decided to send me on a wild goose chase halfway around the world.”
“Please,” he snorts. “It was hardly a wild goose chase. Your had a plane ticket, you knew exactly where you were going.”
You look at him a moment and then grip his chin and turn his face towards you to kiss him thoroughly. When you part, his face is flushed and he’s panting. You stare into his eyes. “Yes, I did.”
He smiles a full Sunshine smile and meets your lips again.
“So, who else knew?” you ask him over the loud Electronica thumping out of the loud speakers, as you lead him through the crowd and further inside the club. “Did Daphne know? Did your mom?”
“No.” He shakes his head. “Absolutely not. I didn’t tell anyone. At all.” He looks over at you. “Well, Cynthia was the one who I was coordinating with so she had to know.”
“Coordinating, my foot.” You grunt. “More like conspiring behind my back.”
“What?” He mock-frowns. “I am sorry, I must’ve missed the complaint you registered with the authorities.”
“Brat,” you chide him as you enter what seems to be La Muralla’s backroom—naked men lean against various surfaces, doing what comes naturally to them: fucking. “You should’ve been on my flight. I had a horde of Spanish brats bawling in my ear the whole time. Gave me a fucking headache.”
“Aw. Poor baby.” He chuckles at you unsympathetically. “Here. Let me fix that.” He pushes you against the wall and you feel his hands slip inside your shirt as he leans over to breathe into your left ear. “Tell me which one it was.” He licks the outer shell, making you sigh, and murmurs. “Was it this one?”
You feel his teeth nipping at your lobe and inhale sharply. “Mmm. Yeah, I think.” His tongue flicks once more as you close your eyes to the sights around you and focus on the feel of his fingers on your stomach, sliding up to twist around your nipples, as his teeth tug at your ear.
“Ahhh,” you groan. “No, wait.” You stop him. “I think it was the other one.” You feel his smile against your skin as he moves to your right ear and laves the skin right behind it. “Mmm. Yeah. Do that again.”
“This?” He asks as his teeth play with your earlobe for another few seconds, making you moan, before moving to your neck—where he laps at the dip of your throat and kisses your pulse, his arms wrapping around you.
“You were totally playing me though, weren’t you?” you ask him after a while, your fingers sliding into his soft hair.
“Hmm?” He looks up at you. “You mean with the non-calls and the voicemails?” He smiles. “Of course I was.”
“Asshole!” You swat his thigh.
He grins. “Hey, you totally love my ass.”
You snort. “Yep, it certainly is the finest in all of fabulous Pittsburgh.”
“Excuse me.” He raises a brow. “But this isn’t Pittsburgh.”
“Oh no. You’re right. It’s Ibiza.” You rub your nose against his and smile. “I guess now we can say that your ass is the finest in not only Pittsburgh, but in all of the western hemisphere.”
“You got that right.” He grins and kisses you again.
“So…” You look down into his eyes, as this time your tone turns serious. “Am I to assume that the one-way ticket was only a symbolic way of showing that a one-way trip to Ibiza doesn’t just have to mean…” You pause for a split second as he goes still in your arms—his eyes glittering in the neon blue lights. “…the end of one’s life? But that…”
“But that,” he interrupts you, “it can also be a symbol of new beginnings.” His throat convulses as his grip around you tightens. “That it can mean health and love and happiness too.” He stares into your eyes. “That it can be a way of putting your faith in someone else’s hands, and of letting go for just a while—not knowing when that moment will end but trusting that someone just the same.”
You look at him for a long moment, hearing him breathe, feeling his heart thumping against your chest. You run your hand up his back, soothing his tense muscles and venture: “Hey, I did manage to figure that out, you know.”
He stares at your face and then breaks into a smile. “Good. Don’t you know I came after you because you’re so fucking smart?” His eyes twinkle. “Stay that way.”
“This way?” You arch your brow, pointing to your cock tenting inside your pants and his hands digging inside your clothes.
“Oh yeah,” he chuckles, as he unbuttons your pants and slips your cock out. “This way too.”
Your groan is your only answer as he slides down to his knees and swallows you whole.
Later that night, you’re not surprised when he takes out the box of rings from his luggage and climbs back into the bed next to you. He had been planning this trip before he ever went to New York so it’s no shock that he snagged these before leaving. You believe him, though, when he says he took the rings with him right at the last moment.
“I didn’t plan this part, Brian.” He scrunches his nose. “Honest, I didn’t. It just sort of happened. A minute before I was about to leave, I went into the bedroom and took them out of the drawer where I knew you’d kept them.”
You feel your lips twitch. “If you say so.”
“Its just that… we’d already decided that we weren’t going to wear them because we don’t need the convention, and then… it was time to go and I realized…” He stops.
“You realized…” you prompt him.
He gulps. “I realized that… to hell with convention, I wanted to wear it.”
You roll your eyes. “Well, that’s what I bought them for.” You poke him in the side. “Wear it.”
“But.” He frowns. “But… I sort of want you to wear it too.” You repress your smile at his sigh. “No. No, wait. I know, you don’t have to. And neither do I. Cause we’re defying convention. I know.”
You press your lips together. “That’s what you said.”
“Fuck, Brian.” He sits up and stares at you. “I thought you agreed.”
You sigh. “I do agree.” You stare into his eyes, as you touch his face. “I said, fuck convention. We don’t need marriage and we don’t need rings to know that… we love each other.”
He smirks. “Ha. You totally stammered when you said love.”
You lift a brow. “No, I didn’t.”
“You did too.” He grins.
“You already did.” He leans over to kiss your neck. “It’s my turn next.”
“The fuck it is.” You smirk.
“It totally is my turn,” he huffs. “Especially since we have such an equal relationship.”
“Sunshine, you have such a misguided opinion about equality.” You roll him over on his back and kiss him for a few moments and he lets you. But then he pushes you off him, and sits up again.
“Brian, don’t try to throw me off-track.”
“And what track is that?”
“The ring.” He points to the glinting gold bands.
“The ring.” You nod. “You want to wear it. So, wear it.”
He looks at you earnestly. “But if I’m wearing it, then you have to wear it too, otherwise it’s all wrong.”
You sigh. “Then I’ll wear it too.” All he had to do was ask. Shit, doesn’t he know you’ll do anything for him? “There. Hand me that.” You take out one band from the box and slip it on. It’s a perfect fit. “See?” You show him your hand and he smiles. “Now you wear yours.”
He follows suit and examines his hand. “Yours look better.”
You snort. “You’re so mature.”
“No, really.” He insists. “Your fingers are beautiful.” He grips your hand and brings it to his lips. “I love your hands.” He kisses your knuckles. “So much.”
You feel your face turning warm as you mock-frown at him. “Jesus, don’t tell me you’re getting melodramatic now that you’ve reached adulthood.”
He smiles at you brightly. “Fuck you.”
”There you go again about your misguided notions.” You shove at him and he shoves you back, trying to roll you on your stomach. You both laugh and chuckle and play around like this for a few minutes, tickling each other, each trying to overpower the other. And then the expression on his face changes.
“God,” he presses his lips together and sighs in misery. “I am such a ditz, Brian.”
You heave a loud sigh. “And how may I ask did you come to that conclusion?”
He sits up and stares at the ring on his finger—his throat convulsing. “You gave me this beautiful, gorgeous ring. And I returned it to you.” He looks up at you, his face almost tragic. “I fucking returned it to you.” He smacks a kiss on your lips and murmurs. “Such a ditz.”
You feel your eyes widen. “Justin. Hey. Are you having second thoughts?” you ask him. “Are you regretting what we decided?” You grip his shoulders and shake him. “Because if you are…” you will do it for him, you think. If he thinks he still needs a conventional gesture, to prove your love for him, you will do it. You will do anything he asked.
“No.” His face twists. “Shit. No, Brian. No regrets.” He stares into your eyes. “And I know. I know.” He bites his lip and then smiles at you, his eyes clear. “I know you.” He leans in to kiss you reassuringly. “We don’t need marriage to know we belong together.” He wraps his arms around you and whispers. “God, I love you so much. I love you more than you’d ever know.”
You ruffle his hair. “Don’t be silly. I know it. I know it all.”
“No, you don’t really.” He shakes his head.
You grip his shoulder and make him look into your eyes. “Yes, I do.”
He searches your eyes. “How can you tell?”
You stare at him a long moment and then shake your head. “I just do. I can’t explain it. I just know it’s there.” You entwine your fingers through his and look down at them. It’s true. What he feels for you just exists. You see it when you look into his eyes. And when he’s not there, you can close your eyes and still feel it there, filling you with its presence. There’s no way you could ever miss it.
You look up and see him staring at you in wonder, his eyes filled with all the emotions you ran away from for so long. But now you welcome them. Need them, even.
His eyes are wet as he leans over to kiss your lips. “Me too,” he murmurs against your mouth.
Your hands mould around his shoulders, your eyes still on his face. “How?” you ask him. “How can you be sure?” After all the shit you’ve put him through, how could anyone be sure?
He smiles at this as he pushes you on your back and this time you go unresistingly. He lies down next to you and throws a leg over your thigh. “You came here,” he begins. “You left everything and got on that plane and came.” He snorts. “I completely fucked up your schedule, I plucked you out from the middle of your workday, with no explanations, nothing, and you left it all hanging there and came here.” The same look of awe comes on his face. “You’re not the only one who pulls shit, Brian.” He looks into your eyes. “Everything you do, everything you say, or don’t say, all of it tells me, shows me how much you love me.” He kisses the corner of your lips.
And that’s all the reassurance you need.
You pull him down and kiss him properly, with tongue and teeth and lots of spit. He moans and sighs against your mouth and then you hear him sniffle.
“It’s not going to be forever, you know.” You hear him suppress a sigh. “I will eventually come back to Pittsburgh.”
Fucking lunatic, you shake your head. “No, you won’t.”
“Brian!” He frowns but you stop him with a wave of your hand. It’s time to disabuse little Sunshine of his thoroughly inappropriate notions of self-sacrifice.
“No, you won’t.” You repeat, staring into his eyes, your face grim. “New York is going to be amazing for you, and you will not jeopardize that for anyone.” You raise a brow. “You shouldn’t have to,” you tell him. And then you smile. “Not if… I come after you.”
For a few long seconds, he stares at your in astonishment—his mouth dropping open in shock as for a moment or two he seems to forget how to breathe.
And then his whole face lights up and his blue eyes sparkle as the biggest smile you’ve ever seen in your life splits his face in half. “Brian…” he cries as he throws himself on top of you and laughs.
Five days after he left for New York, you wake up from your sleep to the sound of a light Mediterranean rain splattering against the window of your hotel room in Ibiza, and your arms secure around his warm, sated body.
You watch the early morning light fall over the ceiling above you, as you rub the skin of his back soothingly—your fingers connecting with the pores on his skin like a jigsaw puzzle coming together. You listen to his deep, contented breathing, feel his silky hair tickle your nose, and once again agree.
Yes. Life’s good. And all is indeed right with your universe.