Title: Out on the Table (Beware! RPS!)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
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Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Story, angst, romance
Timeframe: Sometime in the fall of 2002
Rating: Strong R for language and descriptions of m/m sexual behavior
Summary: Confessions of one sort or another
DISCLAIMER: This story is just for the entertainment of my online friends and myself, not for any profit. It is pure fantasy and does not intend to reflect on the actual behavior or personalities of the people named herein. Please do not sue me for my little bit of fun!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Somehow this genre doesn't feel right using first person, at least not yet. Hope that second person works for you!
DEDICATION: For Tiff and her cheer squad.
COPYRIGHT: (C) February 3, 2003, Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.
The Vancouver night is chilly as you drive to their house. As usual, Al has begged off to spend the evening with her honey, and Kris couldn't be raised by phone, so you're all alone heading to the Wellings for dinner. When you called to tell her, Jamie didn't even seem too annoyed at having to reduce the guest list by fifty percent at the last minute, and in retrospect, even her "You can bring someone if you like" had been pretty vague.
Tom greets you at the door, smelling of expensive cologne and even more expensive bourbon. "Hey, you made it!" he exclaims, hugging you quickly and a little more tightly than you think he should, not that it really bothers you that much.
When he finally lets go, you hand him the bottle of wine. "Jamie said she was doing fish, so I hope this will do."
He can barely take his eyes off you long enough to look at the label on the bottle, then smiles even more broadly. "This should be fine. Jamie!" he yells suddenly. "Michael's here. Come out and say hello."
There is a distinct barking from the back of the house when the swinging door to the kitchen opens and she emerges, casual but elegant in dark slacks and a blue blouse, her hair pulled back in a low ponytail. Together with her husband, she could be a print ad for the clothes, but as always, your eye would be drawn to him on the page. It doesn't matter what he's wearing, though tonight it's a dark grey jacket, black pants, and a green shirt that makes his eyes sparkle even more than the alcohol does. While Jamie is a slender candle lighting the room, Tom is a halogen lamp, glowing so brightly it almost hurts your eyes if you look directly at him.
"Hey, beautiful," you address her, or at least you mean to address her.
Jamie smiles and kisses your cheek in welcome, then whisks away the wine bottle, the wake of the door muffling and amplifying the noise of the dogs in a regular, narrowing pattern. At once, all of Tom's attention is turned on you. "What are you drinking?" he asks, making you bite your tongue at the thought of asking him the same thing. Instead, you take a splash of something with water over ice so you have something to hold in your hand while he points out the new speakers on the stereo and you peruse the CD racks.
Before long, salads are brought to the finely-appointed table, so you sit and graze off glass plates with wooden-handled forks. The conversation drifts away from work to food and other safe topics, giving you some comfort at the odd-numbered gathering. Wine is poured to accompany the simple fish and colorful vegetables, though you note Tom refilling his glass from a decanter on the bar.
Somehow the topic of the latest actress cast to play opposite you comes up, and with it, Tom's regular teasing. "You guys go out and run lines last week, if that's what you call it?" he taunts, almost not slurring his words.
You take it with good humor, though he knows it makes you squirm a little. "You driving at something, Welling?" you evade pointedly.
He drains his glass and fidgets with his fork, all the while keeping one eye on you and not actually eating anything. "Just wondering if that onscreen kiss might have been a little well-rehearsed, Rosenbaum," he replies with a wicked grin.
You hesitate, not really wanting to admit to things that aren't quite true. "We may have gone off-set to get comfortable with each other, but I didn't take advantage of the situation."
"At least, not more than she wanted you to!" he jokes, standing to replenish his drink yet again. "I swear, James, that girl had her shoe off and her foot in his lap under the table at the first reading!" He sits back down noisily, adding, "I was tempted to look for used condoms in the corridor between shots!" The man's wife concentrates fully on her salmon filet, looking about as uncomfortable as you feel, but he doesn't stop his monologue. "You're just hot shit now, aren't you? All the girls come over and start petting you, and the next thing you know, the show runner has to come knock on your trailer door when they're needed on set."
The biggest steamed carrot on your plate is pierced with several rows of holes from your fork as you stab it repeatedly without picking it up. "Tom," you begin, a warning in your voice.
He leans across the corner of the table, staring right into your eyes and making you sweat even before he says another word. But speak he does: "They clamor for guest shots, praying that they'll be your next co-star in bed."
"Tom?" Jamie's voice, tightly controlled but showing an emotional strain, breaks into his diatribe. "Why don't you just fuck him yourself? The way you talk about him, I can tell that it's what you really want."
At once, he turns to her, leaving off his train of thought. "Why don't I? Simple, James. I already am."
You try to stop him, but he's on another drunken tack.
"Everybody knows it. The producers put us together and tell us to think about what we do after hours--that's how they get the "eyefucks" the fans are so crazy about. I get to say the world's stupidest lines and look at that face, picturing him sucking my dick. He watches me just like he does when I'm in his trailer with my cock up his ass. The director lets us French each other before shots just to keep the energy up. Hell, I've played whole scenes with a hard-on thinking about Michael, haven't I?" He's breathing hard, flushed from the booze and the rant, and even though you can't see his lap under the table, you suspect that he has a hard-on right now: you know that you certainly do.
Very calmly, Jamie gets up from her chair, clearing her still half-full plate. "I think I've heard enough," she says quietly. "There's gelato in the freezer. I'll be in my room." She pushes into the kitchen without another word and leaves you alone with Tom.
Finally you spear the poor, punctured carrot from your plate and eat it, though you can't really taste it anymore. The pretty young man next to you swirls the brown liquid in his glass and studies the patterns it makes around the ice cubes.
"Why did you tell her that?" you ask him at last.
Lifting his too-bright eyes to yours, he smiles more quickly than necessary. "Because she needed to hear it, don't you think?"
You reach across the table and take the glass from his hand, setting it out of his reach, then grasping his hand in your own. "Tom, you're drunk."
"So what if I am?" he asks, stretching his other hand for his glass, which you place further away from him with your other hand.
"You shouldn't have said those things to Jamie."
"Why the hell not?" he argues, confused.
Taking a deep breath, and squeezing the hand in yours, you look him square in his pale green eyes. "Because they're not true. We don't do those things. I've never kissed you, much less gone down on you. We're not having sex, Tom."
Nothing changes in his expression, but his eyes close in on you a little, as if it's difficult for him to focus. Much more quietly, he says again, "Why the hell not?"
So there it is. You never expected him to say any of these things out loud, but you had hoped sometime that they might come up in conversation. It just would have been a whole lot better if it hadn't happened quite like this. "Is that what you want?"
He's suddenly on his feet, his chair shoved back as he leans on the edge of the table to address you. "Of course!" he bellows. "Don't you?"
Words rush in your head but refuse to form in your mouth. Yes, you want to say. Forget her and run off with me, you want to scream right this minute. But you can't. You're a dinner guest--a gentleman. You can't hurt your hostess like that. She's your friend, if only because she's your best friend's wife. God... your best friend...
"Tom, can we talk about this later? I need a little time..."
"Fine!" he yells, spinning on his toe with amazing steadiness considering his intoxication. "I'll be in the garage."
He starts to stalk off, but you follow him and pull him back by an arm. "Don't you dare drive like this! I can't let you--"
Turning back to you, his anger drains away before your eyes. "It's okay, Michael," he says gently. "I'm just going to sit in the car. I'm not going anywhere. Thank you for worrying about me." He visibly makes a decision, and bends to your mouth. Softly, his lips press yours, leaving the sticky taste of liquor behind, before he breaks from your grasp and goes to the door. "Come find me when you're ready to talk," he tosses over his shoulder before he is gone.
Back at the table, you reach for your wineglass, but change your mind and lick the bourbon from your lip instead. Following Jamie, you swing open the kitchen door and look to see if you can tell where she's gone.
In a darkened bedroom, the light of a computer falls on a lovely face that you can see through an open door. "Are you all right?"
The brown eyes you serenaded at a wedding just a few months before turn to you and regard you evenly. "Where's Tom?"
"He went to sit in the car. How about you?" You move into the room, past her chair, and take a seat on the bed, not inviting her to join you, not really wanting to impose on her space.
"I'm fine." She closes the window she's been reading on the screen and swivels in the chair to face you, the glow of the monitor backlighting her face weirdly. "I'd been wondering if he'd ever say anything..."
"You mean you knew?" Every explanation you'd been trying to formulate in your head flies away like leaves in a whirlwind.
She looks hurt, but mostly resigned to the truth. "I know you're not lovers. I also know he really wants you to be. When he started drinking an hour or more before you showed up, I suspected he might tell you." Reaching across the gap, she takes your hand. "In his modeling days, Tom used to be gay."
"I thought he was over it. He liked me, we had fun together, the sex was great... I thought he didn't think about that anymore. Then he met you."
You try to escape her grip, but it is insistent, though still friendly. "Me?"
"He has wanted you since the day he met you, Michael. Am I wrong to suppose that you feel the same way about him?"
Unable to look at her anymore, your eyes drop to your clasped hands. "No, Jamie--you're not wrong. I just never believed he wanted me. I mean, he has you..."
"It's okay." She lifts up your chin with a finger of her other hand. "If you want something to happen with him, it's perfectly all right with me. All I want is for Tom to be happy."
"That's all I want, too." You don't really realize the sentiment in your words until you hear yourself saying them. "I don't want to hurt you by pursuing him, though. It's not fair to you."
"Hey--I'm married to Superman. What else could I want?" She smiles ruefully. "Honestly, he will be much easier to live with once he stops lying to me about this--once he stops lying to himself about it."
You almost can't allow yourself to think about having this--you have wanted this for so long while denying yourself the luxury of hoping for it that getting it handed to you so easily is almost more than you can handle at one time. "You're sure it's okay with you?"
"Go for it, Michael. Once you find something that you want, you should go after it--you may never get the chance again, and you'll regret it for the rest of your life."
"What about you?"
"I'll be fine. If he decides that he doesn't want me anymore, I have... other options." A distant look in her eyes makes you wonder what secrets she's keeping. "But for as long as he wants me in his life, I'm willing to overlook whatever he wants from you."
You sit quietly in the dim room for a few moments, not quite sure what to say. "Thank you, Jamie. I'm sorry we ruined your dinner party."
"If that's what it took for him to come clean, with both of us, it's worth the small fiasco. It'll be better for everyone in the long run."
"I guess so," you admit, squeezing her hand again. "I suppose it could have been worse--Kristin could have been here to watch!"
This actually makes her laugh. "Oh, God--can you imagine? I think her little head might have exploded!" She tugs on your hand to get you to stand up. "Now go. He's waiting in the garage for you."
"How do you...?"
"I just know. Good night, Michael."
You leave her to her computer, and go to meet your new life head on. Stopping at the fridge, you pull out a plastic squeeze-bottle of water, then trace Tom's steps to the other end of the house.
Loud rock music assaults your ears once you open the door to the garage. Tom stands next to a little black sports car, bending into the open passenger-side door and rooting through the glove compartment. From this angle, you have an excellent view of his ass, but you don't think you should ogle it just yet. Instead, you go up behind him and tap his side lightly with the cold bottle to get his attention.
He's relaxed enough that this does not startle him much, and turns to face you. "What's this for?" he asks when you hand him the water.
"Drink it. You won't be as sick tomorrow."
Taking it with a crooked grin, he cracks the seal and takes a hearty swig. "Thanks," he sighs, wiping the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand. "Sorry, we don't stock Ty Nant!"
Your chuckle echoes his as you answer, "No big deal. I talked to Jamie..."
Growing serious, he swallows visibly, even though he hasn't taken another drink. "Was she upset?" he asks, watching you intently.
"No. Just concerned about you. I'd say she was wondering if you were ever going to tell her, but I think she'd already figured it out."
With a bitter expression, he steps away from you and the open car door. "Damn," he mutters, leaning his butt up against the rear fender, "I didn't want to hurt her."
Since there are no other seating options, you sit in the car, propping your elbows on your knees out the door until Tom gets up and walks around to the driver's side. When he gets in, you pull your feet inside and, following his lead, shut your door. The music from the car's system is almost deafening, so he dials it down immediately with a muttered apology.
You begin again. "Jamie just wants you to be happy, whether it's with her or without her. I don't even think she expects you to decide anytime soon."
He draws on the bottle again, then closes the cap, sets the container in a cupholder, and folds his arms against the steering wheel, resting his head on top. "How could I do this to her? Why couldn't I keep my big mouth shut?"
Unable to resist, you reach out and rub his back as far down as you can. "Maybe it was time. Maybe it's better that she knows about it." Neither of you can quite state out loud what "it" is, but it hangs in the air between you in the close interior of the small car. One song ends on the CD in the dashboard player, and another, slower, quieter one begins. Maybe it's time... "Tom?"
"Yeah?" he answers without lifting his head.
"I never did answer you in there," you recall, trying to broach the subject carefully. "I do. I want what you want."
That does it. He stirs from his desolate position to stare at you incredulously. "Huh?" he grunts, still rather drunk.
"This, Tom. I've thought about it, too. I hang around with a lot of girls, it's true, but I only fool around with a few of them. Do you know which ones?"
Grabbing the bottle, he downs the rest of the water with a shake of his head. "No, man. Which ones?"
Your hand slides to grasp his shoulder firmly. "The ones who remind me of you. I want you, Tom--have since I first laid eyes on you. You are so gorgeous, and kind, and such a good friend..." Something in your head argues that you should give up on this--just get out of the car and go home--but every other cell in your body doesn't want to be anyplace but here, anywhere but at his side right now.
"Really?" As if he were still playing Clark Kent, he looks startled that anyone would find him attractive. "Wow... I had kinda hoped, but I really wasn't sure you felt the same way. You're amazing, Michael--so sexy, so smart, so giving... Are you sure?" he asks, almost comical in his disbelief.
"Yes, beautiful. Come here." Tugging him by his shoulder, you drag him close as best you can across the console and take him in your arms. Luckily, the gearshift is in park and mostly out of your way, so you don't risk injuring him or yourself. In his drunken state, he sort of molds to your body and rests his chin heavily over your shoulder. This moment, this being held as if you were some precious, priceless thing, is completely worth all of the soap opera that preceded it.
"Mike?" he almost whispers behind your head.
"You said we'd never even kissed. Can we?"
"Sure," you reply, smiling to yourself and pulling back from his gorilla arms just a little. You take his face in your hands, marveling for a moment at his pale eyes, which scramble for focus on you at this proximity; his finely-sculpted jaw, his sweetly-flushed cheeks, and his cherry-ripe lips, which part slightly as he breathes more quickly in anticipation. You can no longer resist this gift so eagerly laid before you, and you kiss him hard on the mouth. A tongue pries your lips apart, and you welcome it inside to press against your own. He is certainly anything but inexperienced, but the sheer novelty of this opportunity makes it feel like it's the first time either of you have kissed anyone else. Then again, maybe this is the first time it is really right.
However, his mouth tastes a little of bourbon, even after the water, and you remember why doing this right now might be a bad idea. You can't take advantage of him while he's still this drunk. Closing off your kiss, you break away before beginning another and interrupt him. "Tom?"
"What?" he answers, eyes still closed and jaw still slack.
"What do you want to do?"
His eyes open and fix on you almost steadily. "I want to make love. I want to fuck you."
Once again he dives in toward your mouth, but you hold yourself back. One hand upraised, you push his lips away extremely reluctantly. "Wait--just wait a minute. You're still drunk. I don't think we should do this tonight."
"But why not?" He pouts like a twenty-five-year-old man should have forgotten how to do twenty years ago. "Don't you want to?"
A regretful smile quirks your lips before you use them once more against his. "More than you know, love. But I would hate myself if we slept together tonight, and then you woke up in the morning and decided that we'd made a huge mistake. I want to make love with you very much, but only when you're completely sober and certain that it's what you want. Do you understand?"
Disappointment darkens his eyes and pales his complexion. "Yeah, I guess you're right--not about the changing my mind part, but about waiting until I'm sober..." he doesn't quite whine. "I really want you, though, and wish we could sleep together tonight. Can we do it sometime soon?"
His determination almost breaks your resolve, but your affection for him keeps you from allowing yourself to do anything that might hurt him, or your friendship. "It probably would be best if I go home now. I'll call you tomorrow, and we can talk. If you're still interested, do you want to get together tomorrow night?"
"Okay," he says, dragging out the vowels with resignation. "Thank you for coming over tonight. Thank you for everything." He darts in and steals one more kiss, his tongue stroking over your lips slyly. "I love you."
His drunken admission startles you, but somehow not quite as much as other revelations made here tonight. You hadn't thought you'd ever get the chance to say it, but the words are more true than many things you've said in your life, so you answer softly, "I love you, too, Tom." One last warm squeeze, and you open the door and climb out of the car. "Good night. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
You're glad you left your jacket in your car when he punches the button on the garage door opener to let you out. He watches you through the back window of the car with mournful longing as you walk down the drive and back to your car. As you head home, you realize that you had no way of knowing how much your life would change when you came to dinner tonight, but you sense now that tomorrow can't come quickly enough.
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