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PARTNERS IN CRIME



PART TWO


I wake up with a boner, as I do most mornings, but I need to go to the toilet so urgently that I can’t do anything about it right away, despite having my bed full of willing ass for once. I stumble into the bathroom, trying desperately to think of something off-putting so my cock will get soft enough to piss properly. When I finally manage it, I look back at my bed, where I can see you just stirring. Your pale skin is invitingly displayed, with the sheets slipping almost completely off your body as you stretch.

Ever since I had a break-in two years ago, I don’t really let tricks stay over anymore. Occasionally it happens, when I’m too drunk or too drugged out to make them leave after the fuck, but I’m more careful nowadays. I don’t want to give anyone the chance to case the joint while I’m asleep. On the other hand, you aren’t quite a stranger, so it’s all right.

Then again, the fact that you aren’t a nameless trick brings its own set of problems. I stopped fucking people at work after I was sued for sexual harassment by Kip Thomas a couple of years ago. Luckily, a private detective Melanie recommended dug up some dirt on Thomas, mainly the fact that he‘d tried a similar scam before. Everything was quickly resolved after that.

And you aren’t exactly working for me. You’re your own agent and your job doesn’t depend on my goodwill. It would be difficult to construe this as sexual harassment in any way. Besides, you seem so open and simply attracted to me that I think an altogether different scenario is more likely. I decide to have a shower instead of going back to bed.

If I was trying to send you a message, you obviously didn’t receive it because I’ve barely washed my hair when the shower door opens and I feel a naked body pressed against my back. My hard-on pops back up with annoying predictability but then you take care of that and I think that clearing the air can wait just a little while longer.

Twenty minutes later, I’m pondering what to wear with my designer jeans but get distracted by you opening and closing every single cupboard door in my kitchen. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“Looking for food. Man cannot live on protein alone. At least this man can’t.” You open the refrigerator, surveying its contents, such as it is. “All you have in here’s water, poppers and guava juice. Don’t you eat?”

I grab one of my charcoal sweaters at random and pull it over my head while I make my way to the kitchen counter. Normally, this is the point – way past the point, actually – when I say ‘fuck off’ in no uncertain terms. But I still have to work with you and I kind of like you, so I try to be diplomatic.

“I don’t know what you think this is, but I don’t supply breakfast. Don’t get comfortable because I ain’t looking for no boyfriend.” Okay, so diplomatic is an exaggeration. I’m more concerned with being absolutely clear.

You stand up from peering in the bottom drawer of the fridge and turn to look at me. Your face has the same expression it had last night when you said that I misunderstood you, a mixture of sickening tenderness and self-righteous consternation. “It’s just breakfast, Brian. It’s what normal people do when they wake up. Well, right after the sex, that is. And I’m not looking for a boyfriend either. I’ve already got one of those.”

“You have a boyfriend?” Surprise makes me blurt it out before I can stop myself. Then I curse in my head. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m disappointed about that or even care. I don’t. Why would I?

“Yes. I’ve been with Ethan for a while now.”

“Ethan Gold? No wonder he’s so keen to further your career.”

“Hey, I resent that.” But you sound merely amused.

“No skin off my nose,” I say truthfully. “You do what you have to do.”

“Yeah, luckily I don’t. Ethan and I got together before he was ever in a position to help me out. And anyway, I’d make it without his help, too.”

I can well believe that. Your work, from what I’ve seen, is amazing and you have the necessary drive to succeed. So I don’t mention that Ethan has always been a rich man’s son, even when he was still young. You don’t seem like a gold digger to me and even if you are, why should I care?

“So where’s the nearest café? Because I live on the other side of town and I’m gonna pass out from hunger on the bus before I get there.”

“I usually go to the diner on Liberty. The food’s adequate and I meet up with my friends there.”

“Right, I think I can make it that far.” You walk over to the couch and pick up your pea coat and stripy scarf. Together, especially when you wrap yourself up to the tip of your nose as you’re doing now, they make you look like a kid. It’s really not fair. I resent having to shell out hundreds of dollars for that French anti-aging shit while guys like you don’t seem to age at all.

“Are you coming with me or will you continue to starve yourself? Personally, I’d vote for putting a couple more ounces on you, but to each his own. It makes you look rather fetching in that sweater.”

I have to chuckle at the mixture of insult and flattery, but I suspect that neither was intended. You just talk a lot without giving much heed to what you’re saying. It would probably be prudent to stay here and maybe go to the Starbucks on the way to the gym. It would cement my position on what this is – or isn’t – but I feel myself drawn to some diner food and conversation.

“I’ll just get ready.”




“Anyway, I can assure you, you really don’t need to compensate for anything,” you’re saying as we enter the diner. You laughed at my Corvette as soon as you saw it and then spent the whole journey talking about the subconscious reasons why some guys feel the need to drive a ‘penis extension’.

I love my car and I only had it for a month – courtesy of the GLC – so I’m annoyed at first but can’t help laughing at the lecture. You have a way of blending harsh judgments with mischief and glee that is irresistible. You also don’t fail to point out how much I don’t fit into the category of sad old geezers you’re describing.

“It’s a cool car,” I say with finality.

“Yeah, it is,” you concede amiably. Looking around the nearly deserted diner, you slip into a booth, unwinding your scarf and taking off your coat. “So what would you recommend?”

We discuss the menu for a little while. There isn’t actually anything on there that I’d outright recommend, but it’s edible and the really fat-laden stuff isn’t suitable for breakfast anyway. I look up every time someone enters the diner, but it’s more from habit. I don’t expect any of the gang to turn up. They got out of that habit some time ago. I notice Carl coming in though, who’s just about the only cop I don’t hate seeing on Liberty Avenue. There are altogether too many of them about at the moment. Carl looks around the almost empty place and makes a beeline for me.

“Hi, Kinney. Is Debbie working today?”

I shrug. “Don’t know. Haven’t seen her yet. You’re the detective, investigate.” I heard from Michael that Debbie and Carl are having problems. While Michael seems happy about that, I’m firmly on the fence on the subject. To me Debbie looked happy while she was with Carl and that’s my only judgment criteria for the guy. But ultimately I don’t care enough one way or the other. Debbie will survive.

You’re still perusing the menu. Carl gives you a cursory glance and looks around the diner, which doesn’t seem to have any staff in attendance at all at the moment. Then he looks back at you. “Don’t I know you, son?”

You reluctantly look up and then grin. “I don’t think so. But if you’re unsure about who’s your offspring and who isn’t, I’d suggest the use of condoms. Believe me, anyone around here could give you advice on which ones are best.”

Carl frowns but gets distracted by Debbie, who’s just coming out of the back. He moves towards her and I watch them have a conversation, which is strangely quiet and subdued for Debbie. It doesn’t seem to go well because Carl leaves soon after without another look at you or me. Then Debbie comes over to our table.

“Lover’s tiff?” I ask with a soft smile.

“None of your business,” she says curtly. “Although I assume you’d be on his side anyway. Since you both have the same boss.”

“Stockwell’s not my boss, Deb. I just work on his campaign.”

“And don’t care what he’s doing to your community. Shame on you.”

I’ve heard it all before and I don’t consider myself part of any community. As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t much common ground between guys from hugely different walks of life just because they all like to fuck each other. There’s enough bitching, envy and meanness amongst gays to put a senior high school class to shame. Although I have to admit that since Stockwell’s started to put the pressure on, many seem to have developed a semblance of communal spirit.

“And who’s this?” Debbie asks, dismissing me and looking at you.

“I’m Justin, ma’am. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

I watch with fascination as Debbie's anger seems to melt away instantly under the onslaught of one of your bright smiles.

“Well, aren’t you polite? And such a ray of sunshine. What are you doing with Brian then? Or need I not ask?” She glances at me for the answer to that last bit, which makes me grin. Then she smiles back at you.

“I work with him, ma’am.”

“Really? As what? You don’t look old enough to be in here, never mind old enough to work.”

“Justin owns a graphic design business. He’s doing some work for Vangard.” I pause a beat and smirk. “For the Stockwell campaign.”

Debbie’s smile freezes and when you nod at her questioning expression, it dies completely. “Christ, I’m surrounded by traitors.”

You look stricken. “I’m just trying to make a name for myself, ma’am. I’ve only been in business for a year. This is a great opportunity for me.” There’s something about the way you say it that’s so innocent and hurt that even Debbie can’t reprimand you. Instead she pats your shoulder a little awkwardly, tells you to stop calling her ma’am and asks us for our orders.

“You actually got away with it,” I say, a little stunned, when she leaves. “I never do.” With me, she always gives me lectures about homophobia and solidarity.

You grin. “Yeah, that’s because you don’t look like a high school kid any longer. And you don’t know how to pout properly.”

I stare at you for a few moments until your words sink in. Then I bark out a laugh. “You’re a smart little shit, aren’t you?”

“You have no idea! And, hey, you heard her, I’m not a shit, I’m sunshine.”

I shake my head and, in answer to your questions, proceed to talk a little about Michael and Debbie, sticking mostly to bare facts. There are some incidents from my youth that involve both of them and make for good entertainment. I don’t leave out how Debbie’s organizing some very vocal resistance against Stockwell and how that has led to her rift with Carl.

“So you don’t know him?” I ask, remembering Carl’s question.

“How could I? I don’t usually have dealings with cops and I’ve been living away from Pittsburgh for a few years now. I just have one of those faces.” You talk about how you got your degree at Dartmouth and then returned to Pittsburgh because your mother’s ill. “She has MS and needs a lot of care. I don’t actually live with her, but Ethan and I don’t live far from her house, so it’s easy for me to spend time with her.”

I can’t actually imagine caring for my mother or even wanting to spend time with her. But there are different strokes for different people. Talking about mothers, especially with people who are fond of theirs and vice versa, always makes me vaguely uncomfortable, so I change the subject.

“So this Ethan doesn’t mind you fucking other guys?”

You shrug. “Why would he?”

I think that maybe a relationship like that could be bearable, but I really don’t see the point. If people want to fuck around anyway, what would be the point in tying themselves down in the first place? Much as I despise those breeder imitation relationships that all my friends seem to be embarking on, at least I can understand what they’re trying to achieve. I think they’re all doomed to failure but it makes sense to me. Kind of. What would be the point of having a boyfriend if you don’t want to be exclusive? Surely, fucking the same guy over and over again must get boring very quickly, especially when you can have variety on the side. And if you stop fucking each other, you’re really just glorified friends.

“You have all the benefits of a relationship, companionship, support, comfort and none of the pitfalls,” you explain.

“Love?” I sneer.

“That, too, usually.”

“I don’t buy it. Fucking your friends always leads to trouble. Are you sure Ethan sees it quite the same way?”

You smirk. “I can assure you that Ethan won’t come gunning for you.”

“Well, that’s a relief.”

We have a companionable breakfast and linger longer than necessary over the sludge that passes for coffee at the diner. I offer to drive you home afterwards but you decline.

“I can stop round the corner if you don’t want Ethan to see me drop you off.”

“It’s not that. I have some errands to run. So I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Two o’clock. I should be free for the rest of the afternoon to work on the posters with you.”

When we’ve said goodbye, I watch you stomp off towards your bus stop, wrapped up warm against the cold again. There was no attempt at a goodbye kiss or anything like that. You seem to be pleasantly free from attachment issues. My only regret is that I’d much rather take you home for another fuck, but this is just as well. I can go to the gym straight away now and get my needs met in the steam room afterwards. And if you’ll rather freeze your balls off on the bus than be driven home in the comfort of my penis extension, that’s your loss.



******JJJJJJ******



I enter my shitty apartment and find that my breath comes out in pale white plumes inside the apartment almost as much as it did outside. Why am I the only one who ever remembers to put the heating on timer before I go to bed? I make my way over to the thermostat and crank it up before taking off my coat and scarf. While the cold pipes start their warm-up concert of odd clanging noises, I go into the kitchen to start the coffee.

As expected, the noise brings Ethan out of the bedroom, still in his pajamas. He’s rubbing his eyes sleepily and his hair’s sticking out in all directions. The cuteness of that has long since worn off in light of it being more or less a permanent condition nowadays.

“Where have you been?”

“Where do you think? I’ve got a job to do.”

“I didn’t know it involved fucking that Kinney guy.” Ethan’s voice is plaintive.

“I need to make a good impression. We talked about this.” I know I’m lying through my back teeth here. There’s really no ‘professional’ reason to fuck you. It’s more of a bonus. But I don’t want to discuss this with Ethan. He doesn’t need to know that.

“Did you just get up?” I ask in a softer voice.

“Yeah, my wrist hurt like fuck last night, so I couldn’t sleep.”

Involuntarily, my eyes travel to his wrist, which is covered in a semi-elastic support bandage even after all this time. Then I quickly look away and busy myself with pouring two coffees and adding milk and sugar. The good mood I was in all morning evaporates steadily under the guilt I’m feeling.

“What do you want to do today?” I ask, pushing a mug over to Ethan.

“Don’t know. We could watch some TV. Or go back to bed,” he suggests hopefully.

“Hhm. I have to pick up Daphne in an hour and a half.”

Ethan looks disappointed. “Oh. Okay. I forgot about that.”

I feel even more guilty now. Whenever Ethan backs down so easily, I just want to do everything I can to make him feel better. It’s such a marked difference from how he was before the accident. Then, he was outgoing and ambitious, not withdrawn and listless like he is now. I didn’t feel the need to look after him in those days, or the wish to escape, which is sometimes overwhelming nowadays.

“We’ve time for a little cuddle,” I say and Ethan’s eyes brighten.

We go back to bed and I just want to doze off for a little while. For obvious reasons, I didn’t get much sleep during the night. So at first, I don’t react much to Ethan’s advances, but when he turns away from me and curls up into a ball, obviously upset, I relent and give him what he wants. I always do.

Afterwards, I take a quick shower and then dash out to get to the bus station in our second-hand car. Or fifth-hand would probably be a more accurate term. I don’t mind it so much but I know that Ethan resents that he has no access to his father’s money.

Daphne’s already waiting in the station’s parking lot and throws herself into the car, rubbing her hands together over the heat coming from the car heating vent.

“How was the journey?”

“Cold as fuck.”

“Did you get it?”

She grins. “There’s nothing Paul would deny me, you know that.” She looks out of the window, noticing the direction we’re taking. “Where are we going?”

“Starbucks.”

She gives me a long look, but just nods silently. We both know that Starbucks means a long uninterrupted talk. I park the car and we make our way inside the café, where I put in the order while Daphne finds the most out-of-the-way table. Luckily, it’s not very busy.

“Did something happen?” she asks, when I sit down but only stir my cappuccino without a word. It’s only been a week since it all started and things are already incredibly fucked up. And it’s all my own stupid fault.

“Yes and no.” Her face is showing alarm instantly, which is no more than I expected. “Don’t worry. Just a couple of minor hiccups. And Ethan being Ethan.”

She leans forward a little. Her hands must still be cold because she’s spreading them around her large cup of hot chocolate. “Start from the beginning.”

I start reluctantly with what happened at the fundraiser, then go on to my negotiations with Stockwell and his team, which got me the job working for you. Finally I tell her about the night we had and somehow I find myself going into way too much detail.

“All right, all right, stop,” she chuckles after a while. “I get it. Brian Kinney’s a sex god and he has more stamina than an energizer bunny. Enough already.”

I grin a little sheepishly. “Was it that obvious? I’m dreading having to work with him and having to pretend I don’t want him.”

“Kinda. But why did you fuck him in the first place? I mean, you knew who he was. You knew you had to work with him. Why did you do it? It’ll only complicate things – as if that was really needed.” She watches me take a deep breath to start over again and raises her hand in a preventing gesture. “I get it. You couldn’t help yourself when you saw him half-naked. He must really be something. What I want to know is: is it gonna be a problem?”

“What? No. No, I can do my job.”

“But you like him?”

I sigh. “Yeah, I do. He’s smart and funny. And gorgeous and sexy. He has this effortless air about him as if everything comes easy to him. He’s a cool guy.”

“So he’s everything that Ethan’s not.”

“It’s not about Ethan.”

“Actually, it kind of is. You can’t do this job without him. Not with Goldstein in the mix.”

“Yeah, I know.”

There’s a pause while I contemplate if I can really work with you and not let my feelings interfere. In the long run, what it comes down to is how well I can detach myself. I could maybe walk away now, but will I still be able to in three months’ time?

“You know how I feel about Ethan,” Daphne says quietly. “But there’s no denying that without him, there’s no job. Will he accept what’s going on?”

“Of course.”

I can see that Daphne has her doubts. She’s been telling me for a few weeks now that Ethan’s using the accident to manipulate me. I’m not stupid. I can see that myself, but the fact remains that I was the cause of Ethan’s injury. However accidental it was, it was through me that he broke his wrist and can possibly never play the violin again. I know how devastated I’d be if I couldn’t draw any longer. It‘s my duty to help my boyfriend back to full health, physically and mentally. Ethan wouldn’t be manipulating me like he does if he was his old self. The depression he’s experiencing is my doing, so it’s only right that I should suffer the consequences.

I take a deep breath. “There’s more.” I see Daphne’s worried face and know that she won’t let me dismiss this problem so easily. “Brian has this friend called Michael. Michael's mother’s a waitress in the Liberty Diner. And her boyfriend came by this morning. He’s a cop.”

“Oh fuck!”

“That’s not the worst of it. Remember when I got arrested for pick pocketing? It’s him.” I didn’t actually get arrested. The cop saw me stick my hand in some woman’s handbag in a drugstore, showed me his badge and dragged me to his car. There, we had a long discussion about the consequences of my actions and it was only my youth, a sob story and a lot of tears that persuaded the guy to let me go with just a caution. The woman in question never even realized what went on.

“Did he recognize you?”

“Not quite.”

“What the hell does that mean, Justin?”

“He had a feeling that he knew me, but he obviously couldn’t place my face. It was years ago, Daph. He must have arrested hundreds of people in his career. He wasn’t particularly interested in me either. He’s probably forgotten all about it by now.”

“You don’t look that different. And it wasn’t that long ago. What if he remembers? And tells Brian?”

I shrug. I don’t think it’s a likely scenario. As long as I never run into the guy again, I’m probably safe. I don’t want to think about having to explain that particular episode from my past to Brian, not to mention that Stockwell might decide to sever his ties with me if he finds out.

“Maybe you should stop now, while you still can.”

“I can’t. We put too much work into this. You even went to Chicago to get me that program. I’m not giving up now.”

Daphne always worries too much. There’s no way I’m going to give up now when I’m so close to success. This is the biggest job I’ve ever had. I ask her how her trip went to distract her.

Daphne grins and tells me about her week with Paul, who’s her ex-boyfriend or maybe her current one. It’s difficult to tell with them. It sounds like she had a good time and she managed to get the program that I need for this job. Unfortunately, Paul wanted five hundred bucks for it. Both of us are only too aware that our savings are now nearly non-existent. All the more reason not to fuck up this job.

“What about Brian though?” she asks finally.

“Don’t worry about Brian. He’s not the clingy type. It was just a fuck to him… and to me.”

“You had breakfast together. That’s a little more than a backroom fuck, Justin. And you’ll be working together.”

“It’ll be fine.”

“God, I hope so. Just promise me to be careful.”

I smile my promise at her and we leave to go home. Ethan has withdrawn to the bedroom again or never got back up after our earlier fuck, so we’re undisturbed for the rest of the afternoon. Daphne shows me how to use the new program and then I play about with it until I can do it in my sleep.

After we order pizza, Ethan comes out of the bedroom and we all watch some TV. It’s a normal evening for us. The only thing that’s different is that I spend it daydreaming about a guy who isn’t the one resting his head in my lap.



******BBBBBB******



I’ve been to the gym and got a blowjob in the steam room but after that I’m at a bit of a loss. I talk to Michael on the phone for a while but can’t persuade him to come over. Apparently, he wants to go and check up on Melanie. Personally, I think that if there ever was a woman who can be pregnant without needing any assistance, it’s the über-bitch. She’ll probably still be dictating letters and working on depositions in the delivery suite.

In theory, I like the idea of my kid and Michael's being related. It’s like an extension of our relationship, but I’m more and more under the impression that Michael will have a very different parenting style from mine. If he’s going to spend a lot of time at the munchers’ house, it’ll put my own lack of involvement into sharp contrast. I can foresee getting a lot of shit for that from Lindsay. But I never completely lost my awkwardness around Gus and that will probably never change. My conviction that I’m doing my son a favor by staying away, coupled with Melanie’s open hostility, keeps my contact to the visits that Lindsay pays me. So being the fathers to the munchers’ kids is moving Michael and me further apart rather than closer together.

Since Michael no longer insists on spending every free minute with me, I realize how bored I am. Pittsburgh’s too provincial for my taste. I’ve seen everything, done everything and even done everyone. I want to be out there already and discover how far and how high I can fly. That’s the only reason I’m working so hard for Stockwell. It’s my last chance. If I don’t make it this time, I’ll just die a lingering death here. There simply aren’t enough challenges. And now that all my friends have other things on their minds, I realize how very little actually tethers me to this place.

The next day, I barely manage to finish all my other work before you arrive. I sometimes wonder if my workload has actually increased or if I’ve slowed down. Occasionally, I feel a strange reluctance to start on an account, which I recognize as procrastination or maybe just plain boredom. Vangard has some big accounts, most of them due to my ideas, but the smaller ones just don’t hold my interest. Just like Pittsburgh, the agency feels like it’s holding me back. I want more, bigger, brighter.

Ah well, at least your smile’s as bright as ever. I order coffee for both of us and refrain from asking how the boyfriend took the fact that you spent the night away from home. It’s none of my business. We knuckle down to work pretty quickly.

You have a good grasp on what I envision for the campaign. Given that Vangard employs people who’ve been working with me for years and still can’t transform my ideas into decent results without at least a handful of attempts, I’m pleasantly surprised.

You first draw the posters we’re designing. Your rendering of Stockwell is very accurate even though it’s only a draft. It’s quite amazing how you can make him recognizable with just a few pencil strokes. Then we discuss the placing of the script and the colors. Sometimes you shake your head and make different suggestions, always a little tentatively as if you’re not sure that you should. And I find myself more inclined to listen to you than I am with some of my colleagues, especially after you suggest a different shade on one of the posters and I feel it’s a definite improvement when I see your mock-up on the computer. You have a good eye and know your stuff.

At half past five, Cynthia sticks her head in the door and asks if we need anything before she goes home. Without thinking, I ask her to order some Thai food. When she’s left, I look at you. “Are you okay to work longer?”

“I’d love to.” There’s a slow blink and a seductive smile.

I grin and lean back in my chair. “Ian not gonna get upset?”

Ethan is the reason I have this job. He’s hardly going to complain if I actually do it.”

“Maybe he didn’t anticipate you’d fuck on the job.”

You smile. “I haven’t actually fucked on the job… yet.”

And that’s pretty much the end of it. No matter how many times I told myself during the day that I’ve had you and therefore have no reason to fuck you again, the atmosphere between us is palpable. We work a little more and then eat our food when it arrives. And since the desk is already cleared of our work to eat anyway, we make good use of the free space by fucking on it. Twice. And I realize that the only thing I learned from my past mistakes is to not fuck during working hours.




PART THREE HERE: http://kachelofen.livejournal.com/25920.html



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