As usual for San Fran in the spring, the wind was chilled. I zipped my jacket and set off, not sure where I was headed. Going home didn't hold any appeal, and hitting the bars was just too depressing. Most of those I used to run with, that at one time I knew so well, had long ago settled down. Some gave in to a more mature age, and others found their ëTrowa'. I stopped and closed my eyes. Someone bumped into my back, muttered a curse, and stepped around me.
Fuck me. I'd known Quatre for over ten years. Ten fucking years and he knew more about me than anyone living. But he didn't know where I'd been born. He didn't know where I was raised; didn't know how I got the scar on the back of my right thigh. He didn't know that I'd once fallen from a water tower, and was unconscious in the hospital for three days. Didn't know I wet the bed until I was eight, too scared to get up to take a piss.
So, how the hell would he know I couldn't let anyone close?
I must have glared at a dozen people over the next two blocks before I got a grip. What the fuck did they mean I'd feel more comfortable with friends? Now thanks to their brilliant plan, I wasn't going to be comfortable being within a mile of either one of them. Let Quatre top me, fuck that! He knew, and still he let that happen. He knew no one tops me. Why, just fucking tell me why, Quatre. Because I sure the hell hadn't got it.
Somewhere around Ninth and Davenport I leaned against a brick wall. The fog had rolled in, and the air was damp, sounds were muted in that odd distance sort of way. Now that I was finished sulking, I guess I could admit that maybe Quatre thought he was doing something right. I mean, I knew the guy loved me like the buddy he was, but shit. I felt like punching a wall. What the fuck. I didn't think I'd become so desperate that I'd want to be a part of them, that I'd be willing to settle for the crumbs of what they had.
I watched as a man and woman exited some club across the street. She staggered slightly, and laughed at him when he pulled her close and held her steady. Under a street light they kissed. It'd been a long time since I'd been with anyone. Kissing Quatre had been the first this year, and the last time I'd gotten laid... had it really been over a year? Fuck.
That last time now, it'd been some guy only in town for a few days. We met at the bar in his hotel, went up to his room, and I was gone a couple hours later. Before him, it'd been Eric. A colossal mistake. I knew better than allowing myself to get drunk to the point of going home with just anyone. But it'd been a bad night, and Eric looked so fucking cute in those black pants and tee shirt. I ran a hand over my eyes. After I cleaned up, he'd offered to make me breakfast in the morning and I was out of his place so fast I hadn't even buttoned up my fly all the way.
And that scared me. I couldn't remember one time I'd stayed the night, the whole night with anyone. I always woke in my own bed, alone. In high school, there'd only been a couple guys, meeting on the sly when someone's parents were out of town and no one else home. In college, there'd been too many parties, too many partners. Other than Quatre, there'd been this one guy I actually dated for awhile. I pursued him, and we fucked. He decided he wasn't gay and it must have been a phase he was going through. It hadn't sweated me, though, because after hanging around him for three weeks, listening to him prattle on about the most inane things, I wondered at my own sanity.
Work and dating was out. I don't play where my livelihood came from. And for great chunks of the year, work took a good portion of my time. No one outside the business understood and even those inside the business had a hard time of it relationship-wise. That didn't leave much else to chose from. Bars and night clubs were my hunting grounds, and only the very lucky found what they really wanted there.
In another month, I'd be twenty-nine, and I was still acting like I had at nineteen, with a few less partners being the only change. Shit. The thought that Quatre might be right churned my stomach. I wanted to believe it'd been lack of opportunity, looking in the wrong places, and hooking up with Mister Right-now - that someone to relieve the itch of the moment - than the fact that maybe I didn't want someone permanently in my life.
Shoving off from the wall, I continued to down the sidewalk. My being alone had to be not finding the right person, the one I wouldn't mind telling my past to, showing scars and trading stories. Being a top, being unwilling to bottom had nothing to do with it. It was just a sexual position, not a meaning in life. And that thought stopped me again.
If I believed it to be only a sexual position, then how come I couldn't switch?
I stopped at an all-night cafÈ around the corner from my apartment. Thirty-some blocks, and I hadn't found an answer. At least I was pretty sure I wasn't going to deck Quatre the next time I saw him. The shop was nearly empty, and I slid into a booth. Besides excellent coffee, they served good pie, and I was getting hungry.
The gal took my order, made some joke and went behind the counter. I watched her dish up a slice of apple pie, add a scoop of vanilla on the side and, with a carafe swinging from her arm, she brought my order to the table. "Just let me know if you need anything else." She gave me a wink and went off to check on other customers.
Apple pie ala-mode was the comfort food to end all comfort foods. And by the second bite, I'd forgotten all about Quatre, Trowa and the misguided plan. In fact, I was so lost to the smooth, cool taste of French vanilla chasing down apples and cinnamon, the man hoovering at my table had to ask twice.
"You're Duo Maxwell, aren't you?" he repeated his question when I finally acknowledged him.
"I am," I answered, wiped off my chin and looked him over wondering how he knew me. He appeared older than me by roughly three to five years, stood taller, was a little broader, a bit softer, but still nice.
As if he noticed my attention, he blushed. It looked odd, but rather endearing. "I'm sorry to intrude, but I follow the Giants. Greg Wilson." He held out his hand and I shook it perfunctory. "I'm a sports writer for the Chronicle."
"I don't give interviews. They have to be scheduled through PR." Damn it to hell, and here I thought this could've went somewhere.
He was shaking his head. "I'm not here for an interview, though I'd like to get to know you better." His smile held not a trace of insecurity the blush had. Somehow that was more endearing.
Gesturing to the opposite bench with my fork, I offered, "Have a seat." I signaled to the waitress. "Pie? It's good and very fresh." I winked at him, lifting a forkfull. "I know for a fact the bakery on Tuscany supplies them."
"You've sold me," his voice dropped a couple octaves. He grabbed my fork hand and guided it to his mouth, his eyes locked on mine the entire time. Chewing and swallowing, he hadn't released my hand, not that I would have noticed. I was too busy watching his tongue and his lips. "It is good."
I had to blink a couple of times to focus. Shit, yeah. This guy was hot. And he was most definitely aggressive. "When it's in season, you can't find a better, tastier kumquat pie."
His brows rose and he smiled like he thought I was joking. "I'll take your word for it."
Our waitress, Nancy I thought her name was, brought Greg a cup and a slice. She offered to bring me another and I declined. I had a feeling I was going to want to be light as possible soon.
"So," I started, cutting out another bite of pie. "You write for the paper, you want to get to know me, and you like my pie." He paused, stirring creamer into his coffee. "Why?" His expression showed confusion, but he responded almost immediately.
"It's good. The apples are cut just the right size for a good bite. Not too sweet, not too tart. Spices mixed in the exact combination and the crust flaky without being too heavy."
I let him ramble on, a small hint of a smile playing on my lips. "Not that it's a secret, but how'd you find out?"
Still keeping with his contrived innocent commentary, he tossed out in all seriousness, "you told me." I snorted out a laugh and shook my head. His hand flashed out and caught mine. "There's been a rumor about you floating around for the past couple of years. Not that anyone cares, at least not in the press box. But one of these days when you make head coach, or even assistant, it'll be splashed all over the place."
He wasn't telling me anything I hadn't already known. It'd been something the bosses and I talked about - a lot. Seeing that the Giants were based out of San Fran helped, and the fact I was still a base coach, even if I was a fucking great one, kept talk to a minimum. I'd never kept my lifestyle secret, and the coaches I've worked with over the years haven't made a big deal about it. There'd only been one incident ever with any of the players, and it'd been a new draft pick. He didn't last long in the club. I knew that even if some of the guys didn't particularly care for my choice of lifestyle, they didn't give me shit. If I wasn't going to carry it to work, they weren't.
"What brings you to an out of the way diner at this hour on a Friday night?" I changed the subject.
I'd caught him with a mouthful, and he gave me a half smile. "I was at a club a few streets over." He shrugged. "Boring scene and thought I'd take a walk. Saw that this place was open and wanted some coffee." Picking up his cup, he tilted it in my direction before taking a sip. "Now you."
"My apartment building is across the street." His eyes widened slightly and his smile warmed. Quatre's words danced before my eyes. What's that saying? No time like the present. Fine. "Actually, just came from dinner at a friend's that didn't go too well and I didn't want to go home. Didn't want to go to a bar." I gave him a wry smile. "The diner is always open and always has pie."
His hand tightened on mine, reminding me he still held it. "Pie is good."
I stared at his hand, with its blunted fingers, and short-clipped nails. His index finger had a small scar across a knuckle and I wanted to ask him how he got it. "Would you..." and I hesitated, for no matter how many times I'd asked, demanded, or accepted the proposition, I'd never offered my own place. "Would you like to see my apartment?" I didn't need to watch him to know my face flamed. "I've some stuff on the Giants I could show you no one else has." My eyes met his, and he squeezed my hand again.
"Okay," he said simply. Letting go of my hand, he reached into his pocket. "Let me get the tab."
"No, I invited you," I insisted, a touch of wildness crept into my voice. Meeting his eyes again, I compromised. "Dutch then?" and he laughed.
The walk to the apartment building was smooth, comfortable. Mostly silent, not touching, I lead the way up the stairs to the third floor. My place wasn't the showroom Quatre's was, it wasn't even close, but it had some very fine points. Hardwood floors and gabled windows being my favorites. I waved Greg to have a seat on the couch and went off to the kitchen to make coffee.
Not fifteen minutes from the cafÈ and we were sitting close, talking like old friends. He told me of how he'd gotten the job at the paper and of his first days in the city. I told him of landing the job as assistant PT, and how it mostly consisted of running whirlpool baths, wrapping smelly feet and massaging muscles of cranky athletics. In between anecdotes, tongues were used for other activities besides talking.
His shirt untucked, unbutton and hanging from his shoulders, I practically had him flat on his back on the couch. Hands in constant motion, my fingers worked their magic. Greg was putty under me; one of his hands in an iron grip on a shoulder, the other down the back of my jeans, kneading my ass. I kept my lips working, on his, down his neck, across his chest, and back.
We were grinding thighs, hips and bulges, mouths wide with tongues exchanging favors; a finger slipped into the clef between cheeks and began to tease. Instantly, I froze. It took Greg several seconds to realize I'd stopped responding, but by the time he pulled back enough to look at me, I remembered I was supposed to be on the receiving end.
"What's wrong?" he took the moment to ask, releasing his grip on my shoulder to cup the back of my neck.
I shook my head, pressing my mouth to the side of his jaw and rocking my hips into his. "Nothing, babe. It's just been awhile."
He nodded acceptance but pulled his hand out of my pants. "Weren't you going to show me the rest of your apartment?" His grin told me where he wanted to take this, and, while part of me agreed, not wanting to lose my virginity on the couch, another part of me screamed to kick the guy out on his ass. I stood and pulled him up off the couch.
"Walk this way," I smirked and put a deliberate sashay in my walk.
Greg laughed, and hooked fingers in a back pocket on my jeans. "I think I'd break something if I tried walking like that."
Just inside the bedroom, Greg pulled me back, wrapped his arms around my waist, and kissed my neck. "Duo Maxwell," he breathed in such a voice that it made my skin pimple in anticipation. "You are the sexiest man I've ever met."
I leaned back into him, dropped my head to the side and took his mouth in mine. A total top didn't mean always being in control, but even the smallest surrender felt monumental knowing what the end result was to become. I had to relax. I knew that. I had to just let it happen, let Greg do what he needed, and get it over with. Then we'd see.
"Be right back," I told him, stepping away from his embrace. Gesturing to the bed, I smiled in what I hoped was encouragement. "Make yourself at home. I'll only be a minute." And then I fled to the bathroom and quietly locked the door.
Staring at my reflection, I wondered who Greg had seen and thought so sexy. My eyes were too wild, my mouth too tight, I looked like what I was - fucking scared but too stupid to admit it. I let Greg in. Told him shit I tell nobody. Let him live after fingering me. He was a nice guy, sexy in a quiet way, and one hell of a fantastic kisser. He knew what he was doing, was aggressive but not pushy. What the hell was I waiting for.
Still stalling, I used the toilet, flushed, took off my shirt and dropped it in the hamper, washed my hands, and splashed water over my face and neck. Time was up; he'd come hunting me pretty soon if I didn't make an appearance. My hands in a death grip on the edge of the sink, I whispered the mantra, "you can do this," over and over. Game time, and I opened the door.
Greg had turned on the bedside light, pulled the covers down in a neat fold over the foot of the bed, and had set out a bottle of lube and a condom. My gaze lingered on those before finding him. He was nude, standing almost in a pose with a hand braced on a bedpost, watching me. My eyes traveled over his body, and I liked what I saw.
Leaning against the doorframe, hip thrust out with a thumb hooked in a loop of my jeans, I posed a little myself. I'd left my belt unfastened, my pants unzipped and my shoes in the bathroom. Seeing Greg smile, watching his eyes lite up and his hands twitch in excitement, relaxed me, restored my flagging confidence. It was just a position, and like baseball, practice made perfect. I could do this.
I sauntered over the floor to stand scant inches in front of him. Barely leaning forward, I brushed his lips, and my hands went to his sides. There was no way I could be passive in this, but I hadn't a clue how to begin this descent. I hoped Greg would take the initiative. And he did.
His arms slid around my waist, pulled me up against him, and he deepened my tentative touch. He did his best to remind me how talented he was in the kissing department. So good, that when his hands pulled my jeans off, I was aware but didn't care. When the boxers followed, I had to pause. This time, he didn't seem to noticed. A hand pressed to each cheek, he spun me around, putting the back of my knees to the edge of the bed. He dropped his head to kiss my neck, his tongue lapped up stray water drops from my shoulders. My hands clawed at his back, and suddenly we were toppling over backward on the bed.
He held himself up off me using both arms, and brought a knee up along side my thigh. I gave an amused laugh and slid back on the sheets, giving him room. He moved with me, dipping his head to run his tongue over a nipple. I arched up in pleasure; it'd been so long since I'd been touched this way. Even as he started kissing me again, he lowered his body on mine, and I moaned into his mouth. The press of his stiff cock to my groin urged me to flip him over, and pound into his ass. But I suppressed that thought.
I let my hands cling to his back, travel to his waist and run down his arms. I kept them away from his ass. It'd be my luck my body would go on automatic pilot, and I would be plunging into him before my brain caught up to what was happening. He did a lot of moving above me, and I had to stop myself from making notes on what not to do to my bottom. Some things that felt good being on top, weren't so nice being on bottom.
"Let me," he murmured in my ear, one of his hands on my braid. I shook my head no, and pulled his hand away. He didn't ask any questions, but instead smiled almost tenderly and kissed the corner of my mouth.
With my knees bent, parted and drawn with heels to my ass, Greg lay between them, his body flush with mine. Leaning up on one elbow, his fingers stroked my cheek as he kissed me. I kept my eyes on his, concentrating on kissing him back. I ignored the niggling tingle in my gut. Greg's other arm worked its way under one of my thighs, pulling it high on his arm while his hand rubbed my ass.
Trying not to think about what his hand was doing, where it was going, I started to shake. Greg must have thought I was getting too excited, for he kept muttering something about preparing and it'd be soon. My sphincter clamped shut, and my ass shifted away from his hand. My hard-on long gone.
"No," I whispered, my hands like claws on his shoulders.
Again, I don't think he understood, for his fingers slick with gel, slid between cheeks, and I decked him. My vision sort of faded for a moment, but I knew my fist connected with his jaw and suddenly he was sitting at my feet gawking at me. I opened my mouth and snapped it shut.
"Fuck," I groaned, shifting out from under him, and sitting up on the edge of the bed. I stared at the throw rug, tracing the zigzag pattern with my eyes. "Fuck," I repeated, my head no longer spinning.
"Yeah," Greg spoke. I felt the mattress shift, and saw him sit near me, but far enough to be non-threatening. "You, uh, mind telling me what's going on?" he asked mildly enough.
Raking my hands through my hair, I sighed deeply and tilted my head to look at him. "I have no fucking clue, anymore."
His eyes turned concerned, and he reached a hand out to touch my shoulder. "You okay?"
I nodded slowly. Now that he wasn't over me, wasn't about to penetrate me, I was. "Listen, Greg, I... I've just been through a lot of shit tonight, and you've sort of got caught in the middle," I offered by way of explanation.
"Want to talk about it?" He rubbed my shoulder lightly, in calming strokes.
Damn, he was a nice guy. I gave him a half smile. "Shit." I shook my head. "A friend of mine thinks I have... issues and believes if I let someone fuck me it'll make it all better." His eyes narrowed and he started to pull away. I grabbed his hand. "Wait, that didn't come out right." He stayed and I hung onto his hand while I thought of how to say what I needed without making it worse.
"I'm a top," I stated simply enough. "Always have, and looks like always will."
He was nodding his head. "I picked that up from you, but thought you switched when needed." He shrugged. "You weren't protesting, didn't say anything." I nodded and went back to staring at the rug. "You know, if you had told me, we could have done this differently."
"Yeah, well, I have problems opening up to people too." He laughed, and I looked at him, smiling.
With a hand to his jaw, Greg worked it a bit. "You can hit, no problems with that," he said, humor coloring his tone.
It dawned on me how different I would have handled this same situation. I would have been long gone and the hell with the fussy bottom boy, and not sit there cracking jokes, holding his hand. Sliding closer, I gave Greg a one armed hug. "Hey, man, I'm ...fuck, I'm sorry," I whispered into his shoulder. I felt him nod into my hair.
"It's okay, Duo, really." He pushed me back to look at me. Looking a bit embarrassed, he gave me a wry smile. "I don't bottom. Hate it." I snorted. How well I can understand. "I have before, several times in fact. But only when I was in love with the guy." He gave a shrug. "After we split up, I swore I'd never do it again."
I knew what he was saying, and nodded, moving back, giving him some space. "So, it looks like you and me, it's not going to happen, right?"
"No," he said softly, his fingers stroking my arm. "You might overcome whatever it is that keeps you from being a bottom, but you're always going to be a top. And since I won't be a bottom..." he didn't finish. Giving my upper arm a squeeze, he stood. "Guess I'll be leaving now."
Feeling more than a little guilt, I rose with him, snagged my jeans and slipped them on. "If it were any other way," I began and stopped. It wasn't and no sense making into more of a dramatic mess.
He only nodded, buttoning up his shirt. "It's not like we can't be friends," he said finally.
I followed him to the couch and stood waiting while he pulled on his socks and shoes. "What's it like?" He looked up at me, brows furrowed. "To bottom, I mean."
Greg held my gaze for a moment, finished tying his shoe and said, "You don't want to ask me. I told you, I hated it." He stood and walked towards me.
"But, why?" I really wanted to know, from one top to another.
He stopped just in front of me, and raised a hand. His expression was a mixture of tenderness and regret, and his hand brushed straggling hair from my face. "It makes me feel used," was all he said. Greg leaned down to kiss me, and I let him. But I didn't return the kiss.
At the door he stopped. "What I told you in the cafÈ tonight, I meant it. One of these days you're going to be the head coach." His eyes were level with mine. "And when that happens, I want the first interview."
I laughed. "Asshole." He smiled, chuckling. "You got it, hot stuff. I make head coach, you've got the interview." He turned away, and I watched him head down the hall, and disappear down the stairs. When I could no longer hear his footsteps, I shut and locked the door.
The apartment was suddenly empty, void of a warmth that'd almost been there. I cleaned up, turned off the coffeepot, stripped and went to bed. Sleep was a long time coming, and I wondered if I would be like Greg too. Find someone to give in and be bottom for, only to discover I hated it.