All characters are trademarked and copyrighted to Marvel Comics. They are used without permission and no money is being made on this work.
This was inspired by all the great Northstar-fic Devo writes. I'd like to thank Devo for the help he gave me understanding Jean-Paul's character, and I'd also like to thank ‘rith for being totally supportive when I was convinced I couldn't write a character I had never seen in the comics and for also beta-reading this monster. You're a doll, ‘rith!
The larger the city, the easier it was to lose oneself in the constant bustle and movement. Images, people, and places blurred by so quickly it could be impossible to tell if they had ever been seen at all. Faces and eyes, looking but not seeing, seeing and still blind, the happy and the sad all knew to group together in a place where no one cared.
Take the man who was standing on the corner, impatiently waiting for the light to change so he could cross the street. One Jean-Paul Beaubier, Northstar of Alpha Flight, generally disliked by all of his peers for his temper and his refusal to lie. He had run away for a some piece of mind, some comfort in an anonymous city where no one cared who, or what, he was. He just wanted to be himself for a weekend. Toronto was the best place to do it.
And I was lonely. But that was not really important, not yet.
There was a man across the street, a carry-on bag hung over his shoulder as he looked around, utterly bewildered and not attempting to hide it. I knew him. I recognised his face immediately though it had been years since I had last seen him, but he hadn't changed. The X-Men didn't know how to change.
But then, neither did I.
Warren Worthington the *Third*, high-profile playboy, high-profile mutant. The Angel, hidden behind a pure name until he finally snapped and showed up on the news, a villain, fallen from grace, so warped the media no longer recognised him. I had. The man had signed his own death warrant when he decided he wouldn't lie about his mutation. At the time, I had laughed at him, mocked him for being such an idiot to think it would somehow make his life easier. Funny thing? I did the same thing a years later. Mutant, gay, terribly parallelled in this world. Two strikes against me, one strike against him.
I crossed the road when the lights changed, walking briskly to keep up with the crowd and stopping in front of him, waiting for him to notice me. I could see the same tired look in his eyes that was in mine, the exhaustion, the fatigue, the ache that the superhero life could cause. You saw so much death and violence and hate. It got to be too much sometimes and you just had to run away.
I knew I should talk to him, but I wasn't sure what to call him. Impersonal or personal? That was the big question. The city wanted the former, and I could only hope he wanted the latter, but this was the crucial part.
I decided to play it safe and settled on a casual, "hello."
The ocean blue eyes lifted slowly and recognition crossed his brow, and he blinked slightly as if thought I was a delusion, a hallucination, a *very* good looking dream. Or maybe that was just what I saw. "Northstar?"
"Jean-Paul for today," I replied. "Do you need help?"
"I don't knew. I'm sort of enjoying being lost," he answered with a grin, the eyes pure and light but also so terribly sad. Puzzled by this clash of opposites, I stared and I knew I was doing it without any sense of control. He lost the smile. "I'm not sure why I can't find the lake."
"You are heading north. Other direction," I said, pointing down Young Street.
"Hmm." He laughed sheepishly, awkwardly, like he was embarrassed or like he wanted to sob instead. "It seems I have no idea which way I'm heading anymore. Well, thanks, I appreciate the help."
I shrugged nonchalantly, flipping my dark hair out of my eyes as I looked past him, wondering what he was really trying to find. "Not a problem. I'm headed in that direction anyway. Let me guess, the Westin Harbour Castle, right?"
Warren smirked slightly. "How did you know?"
"You look like a man with taste," I quipped lightly yet unable to ignore how husky my voice suddenly seemed. I coughed, hoping he didn't notice my hormones rise to my mouth and spurt forth from my teeth. He looked away, but I wasn't sure if it was because he saw something or because of what I said. "Do you mind the company?"
"Not at all," he replied, taking a moment to run his hand through his blond hair. I was staring again, but I renounced all blame. He knew he was beautiful, he was notorious for it, so it was really his fault. Really. "Coming?"
It was a nice use of the word. I merely nodded and walked alongside him, my hands deep in my pockets as I found myself looking at him again. His lips were pursed and his eyebrows had dipped in the middle as if he was thinking about something unpleasant. I knew better than to ask but I was curious. My trip, though well deserved and horribly needed, had been terribly boring up until this point.
I already had this scene in my head, an obvious sign of my dire need for excitement and a release of all my pent-up anxieties. We would arrive at the hotel and he'd invite me to his room. I'd say yes and once that door was locked, he would grab me and kiss me like I haven't been kissed in a long time, with passion and need and complete wanting. I'd grab him and bring him to the bed, and we'd make love for hours until neither of us could move.
It was wishful thinking.
"Are you all right?" He asked suddenly. "You're flushed."
I'm also about to tear a hole through my pants, I thought dryly. "Fine."
"If you say so," he replied with a shrug and returned to his own thoughts, licking his lips once but it was enough to shoot a thousand volts of pure desire through my groin. Yes, he was notorious for being self-righteous and superficial, but I was notorious for being desperately horny. It was getting embarrassing.
We arrived at the hotel and I watched him sign in, talking to the woman at the desk and blatantly flirting with her. She, of course, responded. No one in their right mind would ignore a creature like him. I wouldn't.
Life was cruel to me. Women complained all the good guys were gay; I complained all the good guys were straight. It was very cruel, horribly unfair because the truth was I wanted him. I'd wanted him since the moment I first saw him, now and so many years ago, so I had to wonder if this was really a fluke that I was there. A city of two million and we had managed to find each other. It could have been destiny. I wasn't pressing my luck.
Warren returned, examining his keys and heaving his bag over his shoulder. I took my cue and said goodbye to him, turning to leave, but he stopped me, putting his hand on my arm, his fingers curling into my muscle.
"I'm going to the art gallery tomorrow. Would you like to come?" He grinned, laughing at himself as his fingers dropped away from me. That touch burned a hole through me, and I was dizzy from it. "And maybe show me the way?"
I nodded slowly, and we finalised the plans.
Maybe life wasn't as cruel as I just accused it of being.
I woke bright and early the next morning at noon and stumbled into the shower, yawning and scrubbing my body lazily. The water was warm, and I inhaled deeply, drawing the mist into my body and cleansing myself. I dressed casually, a pair of cargo-khakis and a blue sweater, and wolfed down three muffins, an apple and two bowls of cereal. I had to eat a lot. It was the high metabolism. I would probably eat a lot anyway. Food was one of the ways to my heart.
Warren was waiting for me in the lobby, dressed in jeans and a turtleneck sweater, his hands pushed deeply into the pockets of a leather jacket. I smiled my greeting and started for the door, watching as he trailed beside me, his eyes clear and alert.
"A big fan of art?" I asked casually.
"I appreciate it, the beauty and the history. I like to know what's behind the painting, the artists who spent their lives creating the works of art. Too many people judge on appearances. I can't do it, not anymore," he said wearily.
"Speaking as the token heartthrob of Alpha Flight, I feel your pain," I replied with a smiled, speaking lightly to keep us both within the realm of a good mood. "The curse of being beautiful, I suppose, or the only decent-looking member of the team. I can't imagine Puck being forced into half-naked photo shoots."
Warren looked absolutely horrified I had the gall to create such a mental image. "God, spare us!"
I laughed loudly. "Be thankful you haven't seen him naked! It is enough to scare a person into a drooling state of idiocy. If I can spare the word from that then they can take all the nude photos they want. I'll sacrifice myself for justice."
Warren chuckled to himself, shaking his head. "I guess every team needs a hairy little runt as well a token sex symbol. I'm just not sure why I got the latter role. Well, no, that's not exactly true because, at the risk of sounding terribly arrogant, I've been blessed with a handsome face, but I'm not exactly high on the personality-meter ... no, wait, I can be. Shit. Moral of the story: Warren would rather every person not assume he's a frivolous playboy. It used to drive Bet ... my girlfriends nuts. Thankfully, Gambit took some of the pressure off."
I kept any and all comments about Remy LeBeau to myself, to save his face as well as mine. Instead, I changed the subject with ease. "You know what I like most about art galleries?"
Warren turned his head and grinned. As if he could read my mind and I could read his, we spoke as one, "naked people!" An old joke, yes, childish, you bet, but neither of us cared at all and it felt good to act like an idiot sometimes. It could be so freeing.
We chatted nonstop for almost seven hours, admiring paintings, making snide comments when we could, laughing so hard people stared. We ate dinner together, talking about nothing, about anything, about everything.
Still, despite our growing friendship, Warren seemed distant, apart from me and never quite willing to let himself go totally into the moment. I watched him at dinner, noticing how he ate very little but pretended it was far more. Masked by a smile, he still seemed unhappy.
It was funny how some people were trained to smile even when it was the last thing on earth they wanted to do. I wasn't one of those people, but I wasn't known to smile a lot. I hadn't *stopped* smiling since I stumbled across Warren. I didn't dare to even think about the implications of that thought. It was too serious.
And far too frightening.
"Can I take you to dinner?"
He looked up when I managed to stutter my question, putting his change back into his wallet and sliding the leather pouch into the back pocket of his jeans. How I wished I was that wallet. "Sure. When?"
He said yes? Even when I phrased it ... when I meant it ... *not* like we'd been dining together for the last few days. We'd naturally fallen into the rhythm of friendship, we both felt it, but there was something more we were both avoiding. I was almost positive I wasn't making it up. "Seven. Meet me down here in the lobby?"
"How should I dress?"
Naked. "Let's say formal and take this city for all that it is worth." And me too, if you like. I'm yours, just say that you want me. "I know a couple places you would probably like. I'll make the reservations. Leave it all to me."
"All right. I'll see you then, Jean-Paul."
It took me two hours to get ready. I was in the shower for at least one, staring at the tiles and stroking myself to sweet oblivion. I didn't get a lot of action. My superiors watched me like a hawk, making sure I didn't flaunt my ‘gayness' and damage the team's reputation. So while the rest of them got laid, however hypothetically, left, right and centre, I took a lot of showers.
I fussed with my hair and shaved with such precision that I managed not to nick myself a thousand times when usually I looked like I was haemorrhaging. I settled on a simple tux that I bought right after he and I parted. I put it on the team credit card.
I was nervous. I hated being nervous, especially when I didn't have anything to be anxious about. My fantasies were just that, some well thought-out and unbelievably gorgeous fantasies but still only dreams. Life really was too cruel to me.
Yet ... he did say yes. He had to know what I felt. And even if he knew, he was one of those strict heterosexual types ... wasn't he? I wasn't getting a sense of anything from him, only what he let me see and that wasn't a lot, just enough to pull me in completely.
I couldn't even begin to understand why I was reacting like this to him. *This* wasn't something I had set out to find and I sure as hell hadn't thought it'd come from such an unlikely, albeit beautiful, source. The more I spoke to him, the more I realised I had finally found someone who didn't choke on their own optimism and could see the world with realistic eyes and the more I seemed to be able to see clearly on my own.
It was strange. Upon meeting him so many years ago, seeing how he flocked to anything that looked at him and had two legs, I had made so many assumptions about his character that he had yet to hold up. He wasn't brainless, he wasn't thoughtless and he wasn't flighty; he was just a man and not much more than that. It was sobering to speak to him, to remember the stereotype and be pummelled with the truth that he didn't live up to it. Warren Worthington the Third had done something I had never thought he could do. He had made me laugh and smile and feel *good* about myself and the world at large, and he hadn't done it intentionally. He had done it just by speaking to me and listening to me and having the time to spend with me. That type of effort had always been such a lure to me, such an addictive quality, but so few people could do it, so few people even attempted to get past the tactless and rude Jean-Paul Beaubier to the passionate, intelligent man beneath.
Shaking my head at my troubling thoughts, I walked slowly into the lobby, watching couples as they passed me, watching men and women acting like they loved each other. I never got that. *Never.*
"Hello," he said quietly, and I jumped, turning around to look at him and nearly gasping when I saw him. As it was, I choked slightly then twisted it into a cough, dropping my eyes to the floor. "You all right?"
"Peachy," I replied.
We got a cab to take us to the restaurant and I couldn't even find enough composure to speak to him. That tuxedo, the sublime mixture of black and white cast against the brilliant blond of his hair made my toes curl in pleasure. I was grateful for the jacket, grateful that it hid my almost constant erection. I was beginning to understand this idea was not my brightest.
I made it through dinner, chatting idly about Alpha Flight affairs and Canada in general. He seemed interested to hear it and listened attentively, responding at sporadic intervals. I learned why he was in Toronto, what he was trying to find. He wanted the same thing I did. Peace. Comfort. Time.
Warren suggested we walk back to the hotel and I agreed quickly, hoping the cooling evening weather would hamper the urgent burning in my groin. Everything he had done, every bite of food, every sip of drink, every word that had left his lips, had been my enemy.
He talked about the girlfriend who dumped him for only a moment before changing topics, talking about the buildings and the businesses, things he knew and could therefore take comfort in. I watched him speak, the low hum of his voice like a thousand caresses across my body.
"Want to go up to my room for a drink?" He asked suddenly.
He smiled slightly and we walked into the lobby, running for the elevator as people piled in. We were separated for the moment, but I could see his eyes hidden partially behind a veil of light hair. His hand moved to push those loose strands out of his eyes, and I was mesmerised by them, my eyes wide and wanton. I *wanted* him and I wished for nothing more in the world than to have him desire me in return.
The doors slide open and we stepped out into the dim hall. Warren smiled again, turning away from me and moistening his lips with his tongue as he dug in his pockets for the keys. Much to my horror, I felt the beginning of a blush touch my face at the sexy image. I had to control my raging libido. *Now*.
"Do you mind if I get more comfortable?" He asked, opening the door and flicking on the lights. Warren handed me a bottle of champagne after he laid his keys on the night-table and gestured toward the glasses on the desk. I nodded dumbly and he smiled his thanks, disappearing into the bathroom. I slowly poured us each a glass, downing mine in a second then refilling with a sharp exhale.
Letting the glasses rest where they were, I sat down on the bed, envious at how lush and comfortable the mattress was beneath me. I guess you got what you paid for, and Warren Worthington could certainly afford the best. I laid back and stared at the ceiling, reaching down to grab my image inducer and turn it off. I had caught sight of myself in the mirror when we entered. I didn't like how I looked without the pointed ears. I didn't like looking, or being, fake.
"Comfortable?" Warren asked with a laugh, stripped to the waist with the bluest skin I had even seen in my life. I must have looked surprised because he laughed again, a self-conscious hand moving to brush a streak of golden hair from his eyes. "I didn't mean to alarm you. I forget a lot of people still don't know about the blue. I can turn the image inducer back on if you'd like."
"No," I said quietly, "it's fine. I mean, I knew about it, but it's different to see you in person. It's ... nice." Nice? Just when I thought he'd couldn't possibly become more beautiful ... nice didn't at all fit the exotic beauty he now held. Gorgeous. Perfect. *Blue*. "Really nice."
"It took me a while to get used to. I felt ugly, still do I guess, " he confessed, offering me a glass.
I took it with shaking hands and pressed the rim of the cup to my lips, sipping slowly as I admired him. There he was, sitting without a shirt, a faintly rippled abdomen leading up to perfectly smooth pectorals, pure white *wings* sprung from his back, and he had the gall to think he was ugly.
"You never told my why you're here, in Toronto I mean," Warren said suddenly.
Yet you don't want to know why I'm in your hotel room? I shrugged and laughed lightly, not sure what to say but understanding that he had given me an opening, left a door open for me whether he intended to or not. "Piece of mind, maybe, mindless sex if I can find it!"
"Really? Found any? Because I'm pretty desperate myself." He smiled, stressing his high cheekbones and pearly white teeth, and my heart burst in my chest and dripped into my groin. I leaned over to, well, to do what I wasn't quite sure, but I do know that I proceeded to pour my champagne into his lap.
"Uh ... sorry?"
"Don't worry about it," he said and stood up, dripping all over the floor and chuckling to himself. He disappeared into the bathroom again and I inwardly screamed at myself to stop thinking with my penis. It always got me in trouble.
"Jean-Paul, it's not like I can't afford to bathe in it," he called from the bathroom, laughing as if he could see me sitting on the bed, flushed red as blood and wondering what happened to my suave, sophisticated self. "I'll be good as new in a minute."
"I really am sorry. I'm usually so ... elegant," I muttered lamely, my left hand pulling at my ear, a nervous habit that I wish I didn't have. "This is a very nice room, much better than the one they put me in. I think they know who I am. I never thought to use a pseudonym."
"That's why I came here," he responded, coming out the bathroom wearing a towel slung low around his body. Perfect hips, sexy and slinky, and I dropped my eyes to the carpet. "No one recognises the Worthington. International Enterprise, maybe, but it doesn't seem to matter here."
"I wish people didn't know me," I said quietly, watching him as he opened his suitcase and fished out a pair of grey track pants. "Or at the very least, I wish people wouldn't take one look at me and roll their eyes, or frown and think evil things, or glare at me like I'm diseased. It's demeaning."
Warren nodded sympathetically, his pants draped over his arm. "When I told the world I was a mutant, the stocks in my company dropped severely and I lost a quarter of my staff. I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I was tired of living the lie."
"God, yes," I replied quickly, "when I told the media I was ..."
I stopped abruptly. This was one of those things you didn't mention when the other person in the room was male and wearing nothing but a towel and a pair of pants slung over his forearm. It created awkward situations.
"I remember that," Warren said quietly. "That took a lot of guts."
"Perhaps. Yet the hate mail I got in response to it and the hushed and *horrid* replacements for my name made me think maybe I should have just kept my big mouth shut." I pushed my hand through my hair, uncomfortable with this conversation and trying not to show it, but he was watching me, waiting for me to speak. "I just thought I could be a role model, be that public figure who isn't ashamed to be gay. There was no one like that for me growing up, and if it hadn't been for my mentor, I would have gone insane."
"I have a friend to whom it meant the world," Warren said quietly, going into the washroom and running the water again. I watched the door until he came out, tying his pants then wiping his hands on his legs. "Of course, he's still horribly repressed."
"Oh? Would this friend happen to resemble a block of ice?" I asked with a grin, and Warren smiled, shrugging massively and laughing as he walked past me to hang his wet pants outside on the balcony. It was no surprise to me. I had a whole list of superheros I believed were in the closet. Iceman just happened to be number one.
I laughed quietly to myself, shaking my head. I felt so relaxed here, and though I still wanted to seduce him and send him into unparalleled bliss, I was just as happy being here and talking to him. It was nice, too nice, dangerously nice.
"You want to go out and fly with me?" Warren asked suddenly, shocking me out of my thoughts. "It's such a nice night out, and I'm feeling a bit pent up right now. I'd really like the company."
I nodded mutely and stood up, suddenly aware of how formally I was dressed, and Warren laughed, tossing me a pair of pants and a sweater as if he anticipated my worries. Warren turned away from me, stepping out onto the balcony. "I'll be outside. Waiting."
I dressed quickly and threw myself off the patio, dropping slightly before feeling gravity pull away from me. The air was cool but not frigid, and I looked around with wide eyes, taking in the sight of Toronto at night. The buildings were speckled with dots of bright light, and the harmony of sounds from the ground was a beautiful murmur in my ears.
"What does it feel like to fly with wings?" I asked as I dipped to meet Warren, watching the mighty appendages rise and fall, cutting through the night air with a delicate hiss.
Warren thought about my question for a long time before answering. "It's almost unconscious now, but back when I was young and they were new, it was really strange. They're very sensitive so every beat can be the most pleasurable or the most terrible thing I've ever felt. I have to be careful when and where I fly, and I learned flying in hail makes me cry. A lot." Warren laughed to himself, and I smiled with him, grateful for the honesty and humour he offered. "The only parallel I can draw is flapping your arms around. It's sort of like that, but you don't look nearly as ridiculous. What does it feel like to fly without wings?"
"Like I'm floating," I replied with a smirk, "but with more control. No arms involved."
"You're making fun of me," Warren accused lightly, grinning then ducking under me, the edges of his wings brushing my legs. The blood pooled in my groin again, and I groaned softly, shaking my head. I was beginning to guess what his intentions were, that he was aware of my need for him and thinking about returning it, so I was happy to play this game with him. "Coming?"
He used the word intentionally, I was sure of it, and I followed him, grabbing for him and laughing when he ducked away from me. In turn, Warren reached to seize me, and I shook my head, moving faster than he did. We were both laughing, both smiling, both ... happy? Three days ago, we were none of that.
I was falling hard for him, and I didn't have the strength to save myself, but I had to be my own salvation. I had to spare myself this pain; I had to deliver myself away from this threat and to someone who could never stir such emotions in me. I wasn't sure what to do with someone who dared and seemed ready to return my feelings with every thing he had. I wasn't quite sure I was ready for *this*. All these unanswered questions, all these unspoken desires, they scared me more than I could understand.
"We have to stop this," I said suddenly, speaking too quietly and my words escaped on the wind. He heard me, I knew he did, because he stopped and hovered quietly, pretending he was ignorant and full well knowing I called him on the bluff. "What do you want from me?"
Warren didn't answer immediately but twisted his head away from me, tragically beautiful, painfully gorgeous. "I don't know," he finally said, "you weren't supposed to be here. *This* wasn't supposed to happen. I'm not supposed to ... do this again."
"Be with a man?" I said, bitter and angry and utterly betraying of my emotions.
"No," he responded quietly, calmly, though the urge in him to snap at me and fight back was strong, I could see the conflict in his eyes. " Let myself ... feel for someone. It always hurts me. I came here to escape that."
I dropped my eyes. Then my feelings were returned but not as lust. Mutual lust was best, a little bit of like mixed in with lust was good too, but this, this balance between lust and ... and ... *this* was dangerous. "We could still have mindless sex."
"You know we can't," Warren replied evenly, his hands clutched at his side, the wings beating smoothly behind him. His eyes focussed on me, pools of light blue and so utterly breathtaking. How could anyone have let him go? "But we could make love."
Love. How dare he use that word ... how dare he ... make this so serious. Too serious ... or still not serious enough?
"Jean-Paul," he said softly, "I understand. Don't worry about it, okay? Jean always told me I fell in ... that I fell for people too easily. I'm just sorry," his voice caught and cracked, "I'm just sorry that it had to be you this time."
I moved so quickly that I didn't have time to realise what I was doing and what I was agreeing to. I just knew that he could ask me for anything and I would give it to him. We were kilometres above Toronto, the night turning chillingly cold.
"Do not be sorry," I replied, our bodies barely separated by the distance between us, moving with the wind but never touching, our eyes locked. I wanted to say something profound to him, but nothing came to me. I merely placed my hand against his chest, my fingers bending in an impossible attempt to touch his heart.
"I haven't done this for a very long time," Warren confessed quietly, his hands stroking the outsides of my arms, the touches so light that they drew goose-bumps onto my skin. He was smiling slightly, pulling shivers from my flesh. "I was young."
"You've had a male lover before?"
He blushed faintly, the blue of his skin fading into magenta as he nodded, and I smiled, touching my other hand to his warm cheeks. We stayed like that for a while, cast against the heavens as we shared this moment.
Warren was the first to initiate the kiss, his soft lips sweetly brushing mine, his breath warm and moist against my face. I opened my mouth slightly, tilting my head as the second kiss rested on the edge of my mouth. The third kiss, the third kiss took my breath away, lingering as his tongue dipped out to stroke mine, our lips barely touching.
"Perhaps we should go indoors before we're hit by a plane," Warren suggested before our kisses deepened, whispering softly in my ear, the warmth breath tickling my sensitive lobe. I nodded, twisting my fingers with his and flying together onto the balcony. Regarding one another for a moment, we stood there, hands twined and eyes locked. "I really didn't expect this."
"Neither did I," I murmured, "wanted but never expected."
The wings shivered slightly, and I pulled him into the room, never breaking the look, never letting him look anywhere but at me, only me, only ever me. This was Toronto. A big city, the city to get lost within, the city to eat you alive, yet I had found him. There was meaning there. I had to believe there was meaning there.
I lifted off my sweater, throwing it over the desk and stepping back toward the bed. We were joined by now only by our eyes, blue shocking blue, blue controlling blue, blue loving blue. I fell lightly onto the blankets, sinking down into the bed, and he leaned over me, white feathers becoming my world. I touched them, burying my fingers into the soft down, drawing a gasp from his lips.
"Sensitive?" I asked, my hands dancing to circle the base of the snowy wings, and his body arched into mine, sensitive parts brushing against each other, rubbing and bumping in the most intimate of dances. I repeated my movements as I pressed my lips to his long neck. "Do you like this? Do you like being touched by me?"
"Yes," Warren whispered, his word humming against my lips, and I drank in the touch of his sounds, licking and nipping at his throat while I stroked harder, rubbing his wings and drawing more of those sensual cries from his lips. "Yes. Oh God, yes."
Warren's mouth came down upon mine, his fingers twisting around my wrists and pulling them above my head, his tongue offering itself to mine. Warren's other hand slid down the length of my body, one thumb pausing to brush a stuff nipple before moving to the top of my pants. He seemed to be waiting for something.
"What is it?" I asked quietly, feeling his weight shifting back onto his knees, resting lightly on my thighs as his hand freed my wrists.
"If we make love," he said slowly, "it can't be just a one-night stand. I can't be that man, not anymore, not now. My ... Betsy, she ... didn't leave me. She died. Months ago. Sabretooth ripped her apart and I couldn't do a damned thing to stop him. I vowed I'd never love another woman that day, but you aren't a woman, are you?" He laughed awkwardly at himself, choking out the sounds and dropping his head, and though he smiled painfully, I knew that he was too close to sobbing. "I'm asking too much. I should have never come here."
"Are you on the rebound? Is that what this is"
"No! Never. I didn't think I'd be this ... this close to happiness. I'm so broken inside. I can't take this being nothing more than lust. I ... just can't," he whispered, his fingers pressed to my heart, his eyes dark and clouded as he fought not to cry.
I had to ask one last question then I'd let him be, but it'd be the hard question, the answer being the only thing I truly needed to be content and safe in my decision. "I'm not just an experiment, am I? Some attempt to recapture a more innocent time when you were young? You know I'm gay. I *thought* you were straight."
"I'm not," Warren said quietly, sounding neither hurt or angry, sounding only like he expected me to ask. "I tried to be, but I'm not. I'm somewhere between here and there, I don't know. I could never escape that, even when I became the playboy. I don't mean to be this way. It just happens. I ... merely want to love whom I love."
I watched him, his face a painting of tragedy, and I took his hand from my chest, watching the fear cross his eyes when he mistook my intentions. I pressed my lips to his palm, keeping them there to assure him. "If you want me, this can be more than what you fear."
"I want you. Do you want me?"
"Oui," I whispered, "oui, I want you so much it hurts me."
So there it was. Mutual *want*, still dangerous but more than I could have dreamed of getting from him. People did not *like* me. People slept with me because I loved sex, because I put my entire being into those few hours of incredible bliss. People did not *love* me.
I had hope he could. Whatever we had now, this strange and new feeling that wove a tapestry of joy through my heart, I could not name it, I didn't dare to give it a title, but it was something I needed, something that would heal my loneliness.
Warren's hand bent into my face, the soft skin of his palm caressing my cheek as his fingers delved into my hair, and I looked at him, my eyes clear and sure, hoping my feelings were painted on my face. I needed to it to be obvious to him.
"I can see it," Warren whispered, "I can ... this scares me so much, Jean-Paul."
"We can stop it," I heard myself saying, "if you wish it."
"No," he said quickly, "just ... don't die on me, all right?"
I laughed, sadly and quietly, and conceded with a nod, aware again of the heat in my groin and the pressure his light weight applied on my hips. Our lips were separated by nothing, and I breathed my reply into his mouth, "I will live forever if that's what you want."
Warren muttered some reply, stopping halfway through as if he thought the effort of speaking was taking away from the moment. I arched into him as he silenced himself, kissing me so the room spun and dizziness settled on me like a warm fog. I had never had anyone kiss me like that, like they meant it, like it was all they wanted to do, and I gave myself to him, rushing my hands down the sides of his lean body, pressing my palms to his backside and lifting him. He was almost weightless, like feathers almost, so soft and light in my hands, so beautiful.
It came as a surprise when Warren's hands returned to my pants, thumbs and fingers a whir as they freed me from my confinement, and I lay there, hair tousled, lips wet, desperately hard in anticipation of his touch. He simply smiled at me ... happy, I thought, he seemed almost happy at that moment. With a move of immense grace, he twisted his body and pulled the cloth of my legs, his bare chest pressed against my thighs. It was only then that I was able to see the full scope of his back, the tightly woven mass of muscles, shifting and writhing with his careful movements. It was an incredible sight to behold.
When he turned back to me, I immediately set to sliding his pants down his hips, pausing to stroke the smooth flesh and smiling when he shivered. Resting his weight on my belly, his legs came aside my ears until I was able to fully remove his clothes. Starting at his ankles, I ran the tips of my fingers up his legs, hardly touching, ruffling the soft down of pale blond hair that painted his skin.
We sat there for a very long time, my erection pressing against the small of his back as I worked the muscles of his legs, the sign of his arousal hot and heavy between his legs. His eyes were closed and his mouth was firmly shut, his arms wrapped back around my raised legs as he breathed slowly, steadily, concentrating on me. I was captivated by the look of him, my eyes drawn to the centre of his body, wanting to touch him, stroke him, taste him but terrified to ruin the image of his sitting there, the gorgeous picture of him as a living, breathing work of art.
In time, he lifted his head and caught my eyes, a new look in them that I recognised intimately. I nearly groaned when I saw the unmistakable affect of *lust* in his gaze. He leaned forward, pulling his body over mine so we hardly touched save for the resonating warmth that seemed to flow from our bodies, mixing and tying us together. Slowly, almost sluggishly, he pressed his lips to my neck, his weight resting on his elbows as his fingers tangled with my hair.
I never thought the world would suddenly stop and revolve around me. I didn't understand until that moment as *Warren*, a man I had dismissed as nothing more than a wet dream until Toronto, moved down my body, his lips and tongue not missing a centimetre of skin. I even tried to move but he shook his head, nuzzling the taut plane of my belly.
I prepared to protest again, not used to be the one receiving, not sure how to be *passive* in this situation, but a strong tongue placed at the perfect spot struck all words from my tongue. My hips bucked when his mouth closed over me, drinking from me, and his fingers rested on my stomach, holding me down, forcing me to submit, and I would, for him and only for him. This wasn't the way I played, this wasn't anything I knew, but mon dieu, did it feel like heaven.
My fingers twisted in the sheets of their own accord, and mute cries of pleasure fell from my lips, sprinkling the silence with a power that seemed only to drive him onward. I pulled at the covers, trying to grasp at something and finding myself falling headfirst into a hot, blinding passion. In the end all I could do was take his hand and weave our fingers together, crying out his name in an exaltation of utter release.
I only realised my eyes were wet with tears after the fact, feeling him move onto the bed with me and touch his hand to my cheeks, wiping them dry. I could find no strength or will to move though I wanted to take him in my arms and love him as well as I could.
"I should ..."
"No," Warren said quietly, untangling me from the blankets and moulding his body beside mine, his arm draped over my belly, "this is enough for me."
I hummed, not sure what to say, not used to someone putting me first, and I began to wonder if this wasn't how it was supposed to be. I had never had a real relationship, never anything more than a night or two of incredible passion, but it always ended. I always felt empty.
"Did you at least ...?" I found myself blushing and was utterly humiliated by it. Yes, Jean-Paul, now was the perfect time to act like an adolescent first discovering his sexuality, but the calm Warren had about him, the peace that I found it myself, left me with no clue what to think. "Did you ... come?"
"Yes," Warren breathed in my ear, "you think that I'm blind and can't see how beautiful you are? The sight of you lying there, trusting me so much, it was the same as a thousand caresses. I wanted that from you and I got it."
"Are you sure that was enough? I do not want you to be ... put out."
Warren's arm across my stomach tightened and he laid his head on my chest, his ear to my heart, and I found my hand automatically straying his hair, running my fingers through the silk. He smiled against my ribs, the sensation beautiful against my skin. "There's always tomorrow, Jean-Paul. I will still be here."
Toronto. You could lose yourself or you could find yourself.
I hoped to God I had done the latter.