by Hyakunichisou 13 (百日草 十三)
The shelves behind the bar were crenellated with bottles, crystal decanters of liquid amber and jewels. Adam sipped his ginger ale, the condensation from his glass numbing his hand. Around him, people wearing suits that they probably thought of as investments in their careers were waving down the bartender, leaning into one another with casual touches, loosening their ties.
Adam picked a maple-roasted almond from the bowl of snacks in front of him and ate it, grateful for the distracting crunch. He took another sip of his drink, and the movement flashed in the tilted mirror behind the bottles. In a gap between them he could see his own eyes and part of one cheek, and looked self-consciously away.
To accidentally meet the eyes of a guy sitting at one of the armchairs by the windows. Adam blushed, then blushed again in a feedback loop of social embarrassment. He hastily looked down from the mirror, and grabbed something else from the snack bowl to have something to do with his hands.
When he looked up again, the guy was looking at his phone, leaning back into the embrace of his chair as if it were a throne. Mussed dirty blond hair, casual cashmere sweater, wicked curves at the corners of his mouth. Feeling grubby and overheated, Adam wiped his fingers on the edge of his napkin. He’d worn his good suit today–with a shirt that had been a gift and a borrowed tie much snazzier than anything he owned–and though he at least looked like he was making an effort, he’d never had anything anyone could call style. This guy wore his faded, soft jeans like they’d been tailored for him.
Adam looked away before he was caught staring, out to the windows that lined the bar. A streetcar clanged through the violet autumn dusk, eclipsing the lights from the restaurant across the street with its own streak of gold.
He couldn’t help his eyes sliding back to the blond guy. Who winked at him. Honest-to-god winked.
It was at times like these that Adam wished alcohol worked for him, instead of just giving him an instant headache and a strong wish to lie down. He took a gulp of his ginger ale, letting the ice cubes bump against his lips.
The guy at the table checked his watch. A real wristwatch, a glint of gold on a dark brown band. A muted thrill of desire shivered through Adam, a sense memory of the smell of leather and the clink of something metal being set down on a wooden table.
It was absolutely ridiculous that he was this nervous. Adam picked up his drink and stood. He edged between the first rank of tables and over to the window. The guy looked up as Adam reached him.
“Is this seat taken?” Adam asked.
“Not at all.”
Adam sat and put his glass on the table between them. The guy took a sip of his beer. “I’ve been trying to figure out who that is,” he said, gesturing with his glass at the enormous portrait that dominated the wall at the end of the long, narrow room. “I mean, is she someone, or did they just like the painting?”
“Oh, that’s Queen Alexandra.”
The guy paused with his glass halfway to his mouth. “You’re kidding me.”
“Yeah, no, probably, I mean, Queen Alexandra of Denmark married King Edward VII, well, he was only the Prince of Wales at the time, but when he became king that made her the Queen consort, and it’s the King Edward Hotel, and this is the Consort Bar, so, uh. Yeah. It’s probably her. Um.” Adam stuck his face into his glass and finished the watery dregs.
“I didn’t know that. See, it’s a good thing you came over here.” He held out his hand. “Joel.”
“Adam.” They shook. Joel’s grip was firm and warm.
“So, Adam, did you know that because you’re into royalty or into history?”
“Both? I mean, I’m a history nerd, but royalty, you know, comes with the territory, I guess I’m just a nerd…generally…oh, god.” Adam facepalmed into blessed darkness, squeezing his eyes shut.
He heard Joel chuckle. “You okay there?” Then, when Adam didn’t lift his head, “Adam? Seriously, are you all right?”
“Ugh.” He squinted his eyes open. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m screwing up your fantasy thing, but–this is so weird.”
“What’s weird about it?” Joel made a circle with his glass, encompassing the room. “We’re two strangers having a drink in a hotel bar. “
“You’re flirting with me.”
“Sure, I’m flirting with you.” Joel leaned forward as if to impart a secret. “You’re hot.”
Adam was going to die blushing. He was going to die of blushing.
Joel’s foot bumped his gently under the table. “I’ve seen you give a presentation in front of a couple of hundred people and kill it. Why is it difficult to have a fun conversation with one person who’s interested in you?”
“I don’t know. It’s just different. Anyway, ignore me. Or, I mean, don’t ignore me, let’s do this thing.”
Joel reached out to brush his thumb over the top of Adam’s hand. “Does my flirting really bother you?”
“Not exactly.” He couldn’t imagine complaining about Joel’s attention, still heady two years in. “It’s just, I don’t know what to say that doesn’t make me feel fake.”
“Hmm. All right. If you can put up with me flirting, I can live with you not flirting back.” Joel slid a thick piece of creamy white paper headed Shared Plates and Small Bites from the edge of the table into the centre. “Do you feel like getting something to eat?”
After they ordered, Joel excused himself to go to the washroom. The room was getting louder and closer now that full dark had fallen; some men by the bar burst into extravagant laughter, and a group in the corner started singing Happy Birthday. Adam pulled back into the sheltering wings of his chair and pulled up the latest issue of Ontario History on his phone.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?”
Adam blinked up at Joel. “…No?”
“Thanks.” Joel slid back into his seat. “I should have known it would be busy on a Friday night. You come here often?”
I can live with you not flirting back. “No. It’s my first time.”
“Yeah? Special occasion?”
“My boyfriend won a gift certificate for the hotel in a United Way draw at work, so, you know. Might as well enjoy it.”
“Boyfriend, huh? Lucky him.”
Their waiter arrived with a refill of their drinks and their order of raclette flatbreads, aka fancy little pizzas. Adam took a slice onto his plate. There were ruffled mushrooms and about three kinds of cheese on it, and he couldn’t help a little moan of satisfaction.
“Yeah, and there’s caramelized onions, and–oh, man, that’s good.”
“I bet you’d taste better,” Joel murmured. The glance he flicked at Adam through his eyelashes made Adam feel as though Joel were mentally stripping him down as they sat there–which, okay, was a thought he might want to come back to later.
“Or do you prefer the classics?”
“Huh? Yeah, mushroom pizza’s good, I’m a fan.”
Blistered pizza crust held delicately between finger and thumb, Joel slouched back in his chair and put his right ankle over his knee. “That is a phone in my pocket, but I’m also glad to see you.” He bit the point of the slice off and raised one eyebrow.
“So I see.” He knew that spark of challenge in Joel’s eye. “Speaking of which, how do you like your new phone now that you’ve had it for a few months?”
“The camera’s awesome and I like the extra memory, but there’s one major flaw in it.”
“Your number’s not in it.”
Joel and his friends bantered like they were having a snowball fight, cheerful insults lobbed and returned before Adam even registered what they meant–but that didn’t mean he hadn’t cultivated his own way of teasing Joel back. He shook his head. “Isn’t it bizarre that we’re all carrying around computers with more processing power than an entire mainframe had fifty years ago, and we still complain about the little things they don’t have?”
“Still, it must have Google, because I’ve just found what I’ve been searching for.”
“Did you know that the name Google came out of a misspelling of googol, meaning ten to the power of a hundred?” Adam helped himself to another piece of pizza.
“In fact, I did not know that.” Joel sucked a smear of cheese off his thumb, making sure Adam was watching. “You look familiar. Did we go to the same English class? Or did we maybe have…chemistry together?”
Something about the timing of that got to Adam. “Maybe,” he said, just barely suppressing a snicker.
“Or maybe it was history. I’m learning about important dates. Want to be one of them?” Joel was grinning at him.
“History is not about dates,” Adam said sternly.
“You mean you don’t remember me? Oh, that’s right, we’ve only met in my dreams.”
Adam lost his battle, and laughed through a groan. “Come on.”
“Kiss me if I’m wrong, but dinosaurs still exist, right?”
“Did you seriously ever flirt like this? Did anybody ever punch you?”
“If you were a library book I’d check. You. Out.” Joel lifted his beer glass with a flourish.
“Your flirting is bizarrely education-themed.”
“Are you a carbon sample? Because I want to date you.”
“Please tell me you got these lines from a cheesy website.”
Joel leaned across the table and slid his hand into Adam’s. He turned it over, thumb drawing slow circles in Adam’s palm. His smile softened. “What time do you have to be back in Heaven?”
A frisson of desire went up Adam’s spine. “I’ve got all weekend.”
The thumb slid to the sensitive skin over his pulse. “I thought I’d go upstairs,” Joel said, low enough that Adam had to lean forward to hear him, “and make out. Want to come with me?”
Adam swallowed. “Yeah, okay.”
Joel took care of the bill, and they walked out of the bar and through the lobby, all the white marble casting light up against the night-glossy skylights. In the elevator, frosted mirrors reflected them back to themselves, endless grey Adams and charcoal Joels standing shoulder to shoulder and blurring into one as they receded into infinity.
Their room was on the ninth floor, halfway down the carpeted and hushed corridor. Joel opened it with a keycard and bowed Adam in.
“Wow,” Adam said, clearing the entryway and stopping.
“Yeah, not bad. I should win draws more often.”
The room was, no joke, larger than several apartments Adam had had. Everything was clean-lined, the colours white and black and cream accented with crimson: a seating area with a red-striped couch and chair, a wide-screen TV on a low dresser, a desk below an enormous round mirror, and, against the scarlet-painted far wall, a king-size bed with a tall quilted headboard and a red blanket folded and draped over its foot like an invitation.
Joel wrapped his arms around Adam from behind and nuzzled his neck. “So, stranger,” he purred, “what are you into?”
“What am I into?” Adam repeated, to buy himself some time.
“Mm-hm.” Joel’s breathed hot air on the curve of Adam’s ear. “Do you like to make out for a long time or just get down and dirty? Are you straight-up vanilla, or do you get a little kinky?”
Adam’s thoughts whirled. Sex with Joel was super hot, the best he’d ever had, but he couldn’t say it was particularly adventurous or inventive. Was this Joel’s way of opening up the topic?
He turned in Joel’s arms, not meeting his eyes. “You, uh, lured me up here with the promise of making out.”
“So I did.” Joel kissed him lightly on the lips and walked him backwards. Adam sensed and then felt the wall, unyielding against his back. Joel crowded in and kissed him, thoroughly this time, and, satisfyingly trapped, Adam knotted his hands in Joel’s sweater and kissed back.
Joel worked his knee between Adam’s thighs. Adam gave a little moan in the back of his throat. Joel pulled back enough that he could whisper, “Good?” Adam nodded. “What else do you like? Tell me.”
“But it’s your fantasy,” Adam protested.
“It sure is. A handsome stranger in my hotel room, telling me what he wants me to do to get him off.” Joel’s hand wandered down Adam’s side, around his hip. “Maybe something he doesn’t ask for at home, because people can get into a routine, and even if it’s a good routine–especially if it’s a good routine–they might feel weird asking for something else.” His hand worked between Adam’s ass and the wall. Adam titled his head back and closed his eyes.
“Well,” he said. His mouth was dry. This was Joel, he reminded himself, to whom he could say anything, of whom he could ask anything.
“Yes?” Joel’s other hand smoothed up Adam’s arm.
“You know how I, um, like it when you, uh, hold me down?” Joel on top of him, kissing him, his weight making Adam feel held and safe.
“If you–if you did that, and just–kept going? That would be, uh, pretty hot.”
Joel’s hips pressed him in place. “Kept going how?”
“Like…” Just the unformed thought of it, even before he moulded it into words, was making him hard. “Like if you didn’t ask me what I wanted, if you just, you know, did what you wanted.”
Joel paused his moving hands. “You said a while ago that you weren’t interested in BDSM any more. Are you having second thoughts?”
“No, it’s not that.” He hadn’t had a bad time exploring, it was just that the particular brand of theatricality in the community he’d fallen in with didn’t match what was in his imagination. He didn’t find any thrill in ropes, or orders, or the threat/promise of a punishment held over his head. He just wanted to be thoroughly, lovingly done to.
Joel said, carefully, “Is this a thing where you want to pretend to fight me, or say no while I keep going?”
Alex shook his head hastily. “Big no on that.” Just the thought sent a ripple of unease through him.
He felt Joel relax. “Because I’d need a little working up to that.”
“It’s just–god, it’s so selfish.”
“I’m all for a little bit of mutual selfishness.” Joel dropped another kiss on the corner of his mouth. “So, you just want me to ravage your hot bod?”
Adam couldn’t help laughing against Joel’s lips. “I guess. Yeah.”
“You like the feeling of being out of control?”
“It’s not about being out of control, it’s just–” He sighed. “It’s hard to explain. Sometimes I just want it to happen without having to tell you what I want or think of what I’m going to do next or–just sometimes it’s all so much work.” He heard his own words, and winced. “I don’t mean that sex with you is work. I’m just, ugh. I didn’t mean–“
Joel pushed him more tightly against the wall. “I know what you meant.”
“We don’t have to.”
“Shush.” Joel loosened the knot on Adam’s tie, which in fact was his own tie that he had insisted Adam wear. “First thing I want to do is get you naked.” He pushed the jacket off Adam’s shoulders and pulled him a step away from the wall to take it off completely and drape it over a chair. The tie went next, a coil of silk on the desk. Joel’s fingers started in on Adam’s shirt buttons, and Adam caught his breath at the graze of Joel’s warm knuckles against his throat.
Joel unfastened Adam’s pants slowly and cupped Adam’s erection through his open zipper. Adam swayed into his touch, and Joel took his hand away and pushed his pants down.
“Note to self: shoes before pants next time,” Joel said, untying them. Adam leaned back against the wall as Joel knelt to work off his shoes and socks, then his pants, leaving him in his boxer briefs. Joel stood and kissed him again, putting his arms around Adam to hold him in place. “All right?”
“Yeah….” It wasn’t that he wasn’t turned on, but the unfamiliarity of everything was making it hard for him to switch off his awareness of his high-gloss surroundings, the temperature of the room, the sounds from the street. His mind buzzed, caught halfway between anxiety and anticipation.
Joel ran his hand down Adam’s bare chest. “Still not naked enough.” He hooked his thumbs over the elastic of Adam’s briefs and peeled them off. Then he took Adam’s elbow and steered him over to the bed. One-handed, he stripped the bedspread down until the bottom sheet was exposed. “Lie down.”
Adam stretched out, half-sitting against the mounds of pillows. Joel looked at his body, a little smile on his face. Adam closed his eyes. The sheets were thick and soft and probably had a thread count of several thousand, but Adam’s skin prickled. He shifted in place and opened his eyes again.
“Not good?” Joel asked.
“Can you come closer?”
“You bet.” Joel paused a moment to toe off his shoes. He knelt on the mattress and crawled towards Adam, then over him, settling down on top of him. Adam sighed, and melted into the pillows. He could feel the worn spots on Joel’s jeans, the nap of his sweater, the heat of Joel’s body radiating through both.
Joel propped himself up on his elbows. “I didn’t know this was a fantasy of mine,” he said, “but I’m getting into it. You naked, me dressed.” One hand slid down to cup Adam’s bare ass, and he thrust his hips, his arousal rubbing against Adam’s through washed-soft denim. The movement increased the weight on Adam, who tried to arch his back and found he couldn’t. He made a helpless sound in the back of his throat.
“Fuck, yeah,” Joel said, and kissed him hard, pushing him deeper into the pillows.
“Mmm, kind of don’t want to come in my jeans like I’m sixteen,” Joel said a hazy amount of time later. He rose up on his knees, looking down at Adam. Adam watched him, sunk in an intoxicating mixture of relaxation and arousal. Joel stretched up to pull his sweater and T-shirt over his head, and dropped them over the side of the bed.
“So. What do I want to do with you?” Joel ran finger and thumb up Adam’s cock. He leaned down and followed the caress with his tongue. Adam’s hand twitched, and he reminded himself that he didn’t have to do anything, that he could just lie here and accept the sensation.
Joel bent further forward. His mouth closed around one of Adam’s nipples, wet and ticklish. His other hand rubbed at the front of his own jeans. Adam moaned without meaning to. Joel echoed it. He straightened and circled his wet thumb around Adam’s nipple while he pulled his own zipper down.
Then he made an exasperated sound. “Hold that thought,” he said, and wallowed off the bed to strip off his jeans, socks and underwear in a tangle. When he returned, he knelt over Adam’s thighs again. His cock was hard and flushed pink. He took it in one hand and stroked, eyes travelling down Adam’s body laid out for him like a smorgasbord.
“To tell you the truth, I like flirting, but I was never really into hooking up with random guys,” he said. His free hand slid up Adam’s leg to the crease where his thigh met his ass. “It was never as good as in my imagination.” His fingers trailed up, over Adam’s balls, along his belly. “Getting to come on to you like that, knowing you were the one I’d be coming up here with after–that was hot.” His other hand continued to move over his own cock. “We should do that again. Coffee shop? Grocery store?” He grinned. “You could forget your wallet, offer to pay me back some other way.” He stroked back down Adam’s abdomen and curled his hand around Adam’s cock. Adam inhaled sharply. “Once I’ve got you in bed, though? I kind of want to do the things we usually do. Is that okay with you?”
Adam nodded, relief and lust stealing his words.
“Awesome.” Joel reached over to the bedside table and took out a squeeze bottle. He squirted gel into his hand. Adam let his eyes fall closed again, feeling himself cradled in the embrace of the mattress and pillows.
The sound of the bottle cap clicking shut, of a kleenex being pulled from the box on the bedside table, and then Joel’s weight settled on him again, skin hot, his cock slick against Adam’s. His hands came up to frame Adam’s face as he kissed him. His hips rocked a little, a concentration of pleasurable pressure among all the places they touched. Adam brought his arms up around Joel’s shoulders.
Joel paused. He ran his hand up Adam’s arm and circled his wrist, then pulled it above Adam’s head. “I’m doing this to you, remember?”
Adam shuddered. He let Joel bring his other arm up, then dug his hands under the edge of the pillow. He felt suddenly more exposed than he had all night.
Joel moved, sliding their cocks together. He pressed harder against Adam, his lips close to Adam’s ear. “You’re so hot. I’m going to rub one out just like this, use your body to get myself off. You’re going to just lie here and take it.”
Adam’s entire body was aflame. He could feel his arms trembling and his thighs tingling. Joel began to thrust in a slow rhythm, and Adam realized he was panting in time with the movement, trying to roll up against Joel even as he was pinned.
“Don’t move,” Joel said. “Lie still.”
Adam gulped air. Everything in the world was reduced to the heat of his body and the pressure of Joel over him; the overpowering pleasure was something imposed on him, something he had no choice but to accept, and oh god, he wasn’t sure if he was going to come or just die.
When he did come it was a long inevitability, a breaker rolling through him from his toes to the tips of his ears. He may have stopped breathing, or possibly passed out. He came back to himself with Joel lying still and heavy on top of him, breath ragged.
He nudged Joel gently. “Can you move over?” Joel rolled over onto his side with a bleary sound. Adam reached for some kleenex and wiped them both clean.
Joel slid his arm over Adam’s chest and burrowed his face against Adam’s arm. He always took more time than Adam did to recover after an orgasm. Adam slipped his hand into Joel’s and smiled up at the ceiling. He felt amazing, cleansed and recharged. And hungry. Fancy appetizer pizzas were not enough for dinner. Maybe they could get room service. And watch a movie. Getting laid, eating dinner and watching something on TV while snuggling in an enormous bed sounded like a fantasy vacation come true.
After a time, Joel stirred against him and yawned.
“Hey,” Adam said, brushing Joel’s hair off his forehead.
“Mmm. Was that an earthquake, or did you just rock my world?”
“So it was good for you?”
“I hope you know CPR, because you took my breath away.”
“Are you hungry?”
“Hungry for you, babe.”
“Oh my god, stop it.” Adam clobbered him with a pillow while Joel laughed and tried to grab it.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind getting some dinner,” Joel said, after he’d wrapped his arms around the pillow and hung on until Adam had surrendered it. “But I don’t feel like getting dressed and going out again. Room service? Maybe a movie?”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking!” Adam leaned over to give him a kiss. “God, I love you.”
“I want our love to be like the number Pi, irrational and never-ending.”
“That’s…kind of sweet? Even if I don’t know what it means.”
“It’s profound,” Joel assured him. He released the pillow and slid his hand around to the back of Adam’s neck. “I mean it, hot stranger.”
“I’ll be your hot stranger anytime,” Adam said, and pressed into the touch of the man he loved, who was accepting, and familiar, and his.