This is a sequel to 1958, in which Laurie and Ralph holiday in Paris and, by chance, meet Andrew Raynes. NC-17, please, for m/m and het sex.
by Laura Mason
"I've had a marvelous time, cheri. Your Laurie is sweet." She hummed the refrain to an old wartime song, leaning heavily on Andrew as they walked.
"He's not my Laurie," he muttered, certain that she wasn't listening.
"Mais non, he's Ralph's Spuddy, n'est pas? But he's yours, too. We did not have enough wine to make me blind, no matter how little you can see, petit."
"You knew? That he and Lanyon..." He'd thought her unaccountably naive as she'd flirted and bantered all through dinner.
"But..." Andrew stopped before making a fool of himself. Geraldine was a grown woman who'd been living among the Bohemians in Paris for a very long time. "Laurie hasn't changed much, except for that."
"Do you mean he wasn't a lover of men when you knew him?"
"No. Well, I don't know." He thought about that nurse who'd had such a crush on Laurie. He couldn't remember her name, but Andrew remembered how she'd glowed just talking about Laurie in the common-room. "He changed once Lanyon got hold of him."
"Love will change a person. Look what it has done to you," Gerry remarked, sounding sober and a little ill-tempered as she continued, "It's shorter to walk down Baisette."
"I was hoping you'd stay with me tonight." Of course, he hadn't planned this when he invited her to dinner this morning. It had just seemed right, as he returned from making the reservation at Tourleau's, to stop and see Gerry. And that had led to thoughts that three men having dinner would look odd, but the four of them would seem normal.
"Ah, how could any woman refuse such a charming seduction?"
He stopped and turned to search her face. "Have I done something?"
She looked up at him, the glow of the street light not terribly kind. She'd seemed rejuvenated during dinner, but now it was late and her eyes looked sunken in creases. "You're out of temper. But perhaps that will be more amusing in bed."
When they'd left Andrew and his friend, they'd agreed to walk back to the hotel. Laurie was so lost in his thoughts he didn't notice Ralph's silence until he broke it.
"Are you warm enough, Spud? It's turned cold tonight."
"Yes, but I'm fine." He hadn't even noticed the wind, but now he stopped reviewing every word Andrew had spoken tonight and pulled his scarf closer, smiling at Ralph.
"We should have found a cab stand," Ralph said.
"We've been spoiled by the islands. I don't know how we'll manage come January back home."
Ralph shot him a look and growled, "We'll find some way to keep warm." Laurie wished he weren't so slow, so they'd be a bit closer to the hotel and the very decadent bed in their room by now.
But his thoughts went back to Andrew. Was he having second thoughts about renewing their friendship?
"This is a lovely restaurant, Andrew." The owner had seated them himself and managed to make them feel honored without too much fussing. Andrew told him Carl was used to the English by now, after so many years. "It's just what I was hoping you'd suggest, a place that feels relaxed, almost like someone's home, yet has such wonderful food."
"They always have the freshest things here. Carl's mother does the marketing every morning."
"I wish ... There's nothing like this back home, you know."
Andrew nodded, but his eyes once again moved to Ralph, who was still talking with Geraldine. He'd pulled out his cigarette case and she accepted one. As Ralph held up his lighter, Andrew's face twisted with an expression that Laurie would have easily identified if he'd seen it on anyone except Andrew.
Andrew turned back to Laurie and started a bit when he met his eyes.
"If you're not feeling well, I'll call you a cab," Laurie began, truly concerned.
"I'm sorry, I'm being terribly rude. I... I began a painting today and I can't get my mind away, somehow." Unthinkable, that Andrew would lie, but Laurie didn't believe him. At least it was clear Andrew's next words were sincere. "I didn't mean to ruin our night, Laurie."
"Don't worry." Laurie sat back and shook out a cigarette. "We make plans but we can't control what happens. For instance, I thought you and Ralph would be getting acquainted tonight. Instead, he's getting to know your friend Geraldine." Andrew seemed at a loss, so Laurie didn't wait for a reply. "You said you met her when you first came to Paris?"
"Yes, I met her ... husband, Marc, and he introduced us. We were both looking for models, but we couldn't afford to pay for them. We took turns painting each other."
Laurie laughed, delighted. "That's a wonderful story."
"They became my best friends here. Marc introduced me to Chandelle, who owns the gallery where my paintings are sold -- you saw him yesterday."
"Yes," Laurie agreed.
"Marc called me his little bulldog and made it his project to turn me into a Frenchman. For my birthday that first year here, he gave me a beret..." Andrew fell into his memories and they spilled out, clearly illustrating all the times Marc and Gerry had comforted him, been his family, his friends, his parents.
"Marc sounds like quite the character; I'd like to meet him."
"He died two years ago."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"Spud, you go on up and I'll just order us a pot of chocolate." He hadn't realized they were already back at the hotel, but he was grateful for the lobby's warmth as Ralph gently steered him toward the elevator. Laurie waited impatiently for the lift, looking forward to reaching the haven of their room. Once there, it took him a few minutes to realize that his exhaustion was more of a mental state than a physical one.
Andrew paced as Gerry fixed drinks for them. Perhaps it had been a mistake to invite her back tonight; he was all nerves. Her easy chatter should have been relaxing, but she'd been talking incessantly all evening. Lanyon, too, had been annoyingly intrusive -- the man seemed to demand constant attention. Andrew and Laurie had hardly been able to carry on their own conversation, though that wasn't Gerry's fault. He hadn't seen her so happy in years, not since Marc died...
"No!" Gerry laughed again as Lanyon smoothly held up a light for her cigarette. Andrew winced at the flirtatious tone in her voice. Was it possible that she didn't understand? The possessive glances between them seemed terribly obvious to him.
"Andrew, did you want more coffee?" Laurie smiled at him, and his face went hot. He was being rude and gauche.
"Oui, s'il vous plait," he told the hovering waiter as Lanyon leaned close and murmured something in Gerry's ear. Andrew knew it was rude not to give Laurie his full attention, but he was obsessed with Gerry's behavior. She was acting ... young, he supposed, and she truly seemed to be enjoying herself. It wasn't from too much wine; though four of them were drinking, they had only now started a second bottle.
"Oh, you awful man," she said in the least sincere voice imaginable. She shoved at him playfully and Lanyon laughed even as he protested, "It's all true, I swear. I read it in one of Spud's books, honestly." Andrew felt a horrible resentment of Gerry's happiness. After a day of pleasant anticipation, he was finally with Laurie -- and miserable.
"Why is he Spud? I still do not understand," Andrew heard before Laurie spoke again, claiming his attention.
"Andrew. Darling, you must stop staring." She handed him a drink.
"Sorry. You do look lovely tonight." Geraldine never allowed herself to be seen in public in painting clothes, generally sloppy overalls worn with one of Marc's old shirts, her long grey hair pulled into a messy tail. Andrew preferred her that way, actually, but he was used to her public facade, the chic dress and makeup.
"Liar. I look like a powdered old woman past midnight, and I'm not your model any more."
He smiled at that, remembering. Marc had introduced them, and Andrew had spent a week on a dozen studies of Gerry, clothed and nude. Then it was his turn to pose for her, and he'd been so very uncomfortable. Marc had poured him wine and told outrageous stories as he sat, cold and horribly exposed, and Gerry worked with various brushes and tints. Finally, she gave him a rest break and he was able to view the canvas. Her style was abstract, and she'd only been working on what appeared to be the lines and shadows from where his elbow had rested on his knee. How Marc had laughed at him that day.
"What are you thinking?" she asked gently, lighting a cigarette and settling herself on his bed familiarly.
"Marc," he answered shortly, knowing the same combination of pleasure and pain was on her face when thinking about him. "I miss him, you know."
"I know." She took a long drink and another drag before continuing, "He was too old for you. Your Laurie isn't, you know. The few years between you don't matter."
"I've told you, he's not my Laurie."
"And I told you, I can see he loves you still. So can Ralph."
"Geraldine, I'm not like them. Him. You know that."
"Because you've slept with me since Marc left us? Darling Andrew, I know you were only doing that because we both missed him in our beds."
Andrew stood up, wondering at his lack of surprise. He walked to the window and opened it; a chill wind rushed in and he immediately closed it. "Are you saying that Marc was a degenerate, too?"
She was silent so long he had to turn. Her face was stunned, her mouth open and her hands unusually still. "I... You didn't know? He.. I thought you were his lover, Andrew. I know he loved you."
"He loved me like a son, damn it. Not in some perverted way."
"He must have known how you feel, then, and that's why he never told you..." She rose and tried to embrace him, but Andrew pulled away angrily. "I'm sorry, my darling. Forgive me. I knew that Marc enjoyed both men and women before we became lovers. I ... I never imagined he hid so much of himself from you." She turned back to stub out her cigarette and take another long pull at her drink. "So. You knew this Laurie during the war, and you were great friends. But you didn't stay in touch, all these years, because of what he is?"
"No, it's not like that. He's still my friend, even with ... that man doing things to him. But... I did love him, I'll admit it. I never would have told him, or done anything. It's wrong, we both know that. But--"
"Andrew, listen to me. Marc, our beloved Marc, was ... what is the word? Queer. A lover of men. How can that be wrong? In a world where people are so cruel to each other, so willing to kill each other over their differences, how can any kind of love be wrong?"
"It just is, Gerry. You know what I believe."
"I know you believe in God, a just and loving God. I know you also believe in helping people, in spreading love and hope instead of despair and hatred. I cannot believe you would condemn Marc or the men I met tonight."
"I don't condemn them," he began.
"But you believe your God does? How can the loving, good God you follow do such a thing?" She pulled him down onto the bed beside her. "Andrew, I've only spoken with them for a few hours, but when I look at Laurie and Ralph, I see men very much like you. They work hard and try to do what is right."
"Laurie does, I'll give you that," he said. "But Lanyon's nothing like him, you must see that. Look at how he was behaving with you, pawing at you tonight and pretending to be interested in what you said."
"Pretending? Perhaps. He was surprised, I think. Neither of them were expecting a fourth at your dinner. And imagine my surprise to learn that I was there merely to keep Ralph out of your conversation. Yet we overcame our feelings and made the best of it. And you're angry? I never thought you were so selfish, Andrew."
Andrew had no reply to that, so he kissed her rather forcefully. She seemed surprised but responded to him warmly, and his treacherous brain told him she was imagining someone else. No doubt Lanyon would be a brute with a woman. Andrew threw himself into the kiss, trying to silence that inner voice, and was rougher than he'd ever been with her, pushing up her dress and holding her down on the bed with the full force of his weight.
He kissed her again, trying to force his body to respond to the feel and smell of her, but he was not aroused. She was so unlike Laurie, not just her womanly body but her whole personality, so French. And the voice inside him once again spoke, saying that Lanyon would not have failed her. She, like Laurie, would always prefer Lanyon.
Ralph settled on the arm of the chair and Laurie slid into the circle of his arms with a tired sigh. The hand that came up to push Laurie's hair off his forehead was gentle.
"Are you tired, Spud? You should have told me not to order the chocolate."
"We have so few nights left in Paris. I'm not too tired to enjoy this one." He wasn't at all surprised when Ralph leaned down to kiss him, still terribly gentle.
Ralph had to be equally tired; the dinner had seemed interminable to Laurie despite the fine food and comfortable atmosphere and he hadn't been working to entertain Andrew's companion, Geraldine. Ralph was very good at such polite socialization, and Laurie knew he'd been putting himself out to give him and Andrew room to converse. But Andrew had seemed distracted and uncomfortable for much of the night. Laurie thought perhaps he was having second thoughts about renewing their friendship, and was surprised by how much that hurt. So many years later and the world was so different, yet Andrew still had that much power over him.
Ralph was looking down at him with a sad half-smile.
"You and Andrew still haven't had a chance to know each other, I'm afraid."
"Just as well, probably. We both have grudges, it seems." It was odd to hear Ralph so matter-of-fact about such an uncharacteristic thing. He'd always taken some pride in being reasonable and mature, not only in his personal affairs, but even in his approval of the Marshall plan at a time when many of their countrymen were ready to leave the Germans to starve.
Ralph laughed. "I'm joking, of course. The war's been over a long time, and I don't ask people for their service record before speaking to them." Laurie reached up and gave him a kiss for that, but when they pulled apart Ralph added, "Still, it's likely your Andrew sees me as the seducer who's put you on the road to Hell."
Gerry didn't slam the door when she left, but Andrew thought she might as well have. Queer. The word echoed in his mind. She'd thought he was queer like Lanyon. And Marc. Andrew's head came up and the mirror reflected the question in his eyes.
He wasn't. He'd been with plenty of women, after all. Gerry had lovely breasts, certainly a queer wouldn't notice such a thing. Just because tonight... He'd been tense, that was all. Still upset about their dinner and being forced to socialize with Lanyon, knowing the man had done ... whatever he'd done to change Laurie. Corrupt him.
He moved away from the mirror, wishing he had a cigarette. He knew himself well enough to know he wouldn't be able to sleep for hours, and his mind was too scattered to settle on work. Inaction seemed very cruel; he'd been unable to concentrate all day.
Impatiently he yanked open the bottom drawer of his night stand and rummaged. There was Marc's beret; the Bible Dave had given him when he left for France; the slim volume of Plato from Laurie. Underneath it all was a faded notebook, not even art paper, filled with pencil sketches. He sat on the bed, pulled it open, and compared the sketches inside to the large charcoal he'd done when he arrived home last night.
In some ways Laurie looked younger now. The war had made old men of them all, and in every old sketch Laurie's face showed the strain of pain and worry. It reminded Andrew of how uncertain the future had seemed during the bombings, with constant rumors of invasion. Laurie had been a soldier no longer fit for warfare, with no clear idea of what he should do with the rest of his life. Andrew blushed to remember how many plans of a future with Laurie he'd conjured during those days at the EMS hospital. He'd been naive enough to imagine a life with friends and neighbors who didn't side with one or the other of them, but understood that they'd both acted on their convictions and done their best. He'd imagined the world was full of people like Laurie -- yet he'd seldom found any who measured up. Oh, Marc and Geraldine came close, and Nebs. He had good friends, fine people. But...
If Laurie was the best friend he'd ever known, and one of the finest, kindest of men, how could he be a degenerate? He'd been like that, even back then, he'd had such feelings and done perverted things with Lanyon. And yet, he'd given Andrew Lanyon's book... No, Gerry was wrong. Laurie had been his friend, but he'd never... he would never.
It made his head ache, that was why he'd been on edge all night. It had been better yesterday, when everything had simply happened without time for awkwardness, and he'd been swept along unthinking. His thoughts only ran in useless, confusing circles. He knew what Dave would have said he should feel -- but it was impossible to condemn Laurie.
The room service waiter was still fussing over the cart, but Ralph managed to steer him away, sliding him his gratuity and closing the door in one motion. He double-locked the door and turned with a grin.
"Sometimes I think the night staff here is very bored." He moved to the table and poured a cup for Laurie, carrying it to him in the armchair. "Do you suppose they take complementary bottles of champagne to the bridal suite every half hour or so?"
"And 'accidentally' ring rooms where there's likely to be hanky-panky?" Laurie laughed. Oh, the chocolate was lovely, smooth and at a perfect temperature. "Have some, you're not behaving very French tonight."
"I've never behaved very French, my dear. Greek, yes." It was always surprising how that expression on Ralph's face could make Laurie forget everything, including his own name. The cup went down on the side table with a clatter as Ralph straddled him. Laurie's hands were busy with buttons as their mouths meshed in a long, claiming kiss. Ralph's tongue demanded entrance, his teeth nipped at Laurie's lower lip, and he tried very hard to pull Laurie so close that they'd melt into one. But Laurie fought him, just long enough to remove some of the obstructions. He wanted to feel skin on skin, to rub against Ralph's body and claim him once more.
When Ralph finally broke their kiss and pulled back to stand, his mouth was red and swollen, his hair completely mussed, and enough golden-tan skin was exposed that Laurie caught his breath. Ralph was beautiful, arousal glowing in his eyes. He offered Laurie a hand and he took it gratefully, and allowed himself to be carefully pulled toward the bed, items of clothing discarded along the way.
"I've wanted to do this all night," Ralph admitted, biting at the back of his neck softly. "Right in front of him, just spread you on the table and feast.." Laurie closed his eyes and moaned. Somehow the idea of Andrew watching them, which should have been horrifying, was instead adding to his arousal. Ralph reached around him, feeling him through his trousers, and whispered, "I wanted to make you moan just like that." He squeezed, and Laurie obediently moaned long and low, twisting his body, trying to pull Ralph closer.
"Imagine he's here, now, in the chair. Andrew is watching me do this to you." Ralph unclasped Laurie's trousers and pushed them down, taking his underclothes along. He spread Laurie on the bed, flat on his stomach, and removed his shoes and socks, too. Then, for a long moment, there was nothing. No sound, no movement.
"Andrew says you're beautiful like this. And he's right. But I know what's even more gorgeous," Ralph said roughly.
The bed dipped and his legs were pushed further apart as Ralph crawled up behind him. He was naked, too, Laurie could feel the heat pouring off his skin wherever it touched him. He moaned, then, and Ralph began kissing his shoulders, his hands smoothing down Laurie's arms until they clamped around his wrists, holding him still.
"Andrew wants to come here and do this to you, but I won't let him. You're mine, not his. But I'll let him watch." And Ralph went to work on him, hands and mouth pulling moans and cries from Laurie as he writhed beneath him. He could feel Ralph's arousal against his ass, rubbing teasingly as his mouth closed on Laurie's neck yet again. With his eyes closed, every touch seemed magnified. With his eyes closed, it was too easy to see Andrew in the chair, watching, his eyes hot and filled with yearning...
Laurie cried out once more as he came, bucking under Ralph, who still held him down. They lay pressed together, Laurie's heaving breaths lifting Ralph, who once again held his wrists tightly clamped. Then, with another kiss to his cheek, Ralph was turning him.
"Keep your eyes closed," he whispered, then he began to torment Laurie again. He licked at his breasts until the nipples peaked, then gently bit at the peaks. Every sensation was too intense, it was all too much -- but Ralph wouldn't stop, Laurie knew that even as he begged him to.
"Andrew likes to hear you beg. At last we agree on something," Ralph chuckled in a low, sexy voice before ducking down to lick at Laurie's soft cock. Laurie felt himself twitch and dismissed it; he was a middle-aged man, not some randy schoolboy. But as Ralph continued nuzzling and sucking at him, he felt himself hardening again.
"No quarter, Odell." Ralph was lifting his legs now, gently putting the left higher, on his shoulder, but leaving the right in the crook of his elbow instead. He was licking down there, and Laurie couldn't stop himself from crying out. They'd done such things before, but he'd never get used to the feeling. As his muscles contracted, he again imagined Andrew watching, his face so intent, his hands clasped on his knees...
His whole hands, clasped on his two good knees.
The thought was enough to throw him out of arousal, but all thoughts vanished when Ralph finally pushed inside him, oh-so slowly, claiming him inch by inch. Laurie cried out and came once again, painfully, then relaxed into being pounded by his lover. His love. The only one who needed to be watching as he moaned and clutched at the sheets, meeting each thrust with all his love.
The front desk called early the next morning, while Ralph was still washing up. Laurie knew who the guest downstairs must be, so he instructed them to send him up to the room. They rang off, but he remained on the line, calling room service to order up coffee and croissants for three. At last, he thought, Andrew would have a chance to really get acquainted with Ralph.
He had the door open before Andrew could knock. "Andrew. How nice to see you again." But Andrew looked exhausted, as if he hadn't slept last night, and there were dark circles under his eyes. At least he was shaved and in different, clean clothes, so Laurie knew he hadn't come straight from an all-night party.
"Laurie..." He looked around, then seemed to register the running water. "Laurie, I'm sorry to barge in, but I had to speak to you. I have to know..."
Laurie silently cursed, immediately knowing what question had finally penetrated Andrew's consciousness. He spared a thought to wish he knew what answer he should give, and heard the shower shut off in the bath-room.
"Andrew... I ..."
"Gerry said you love me. Like that, like ... Is it true? Even back at the EMS hospital, when we were friends...?"
Laurie waited too long to answer. He saw so many emotions flash through Andrew's expressive eyes that he wasn't sure what to expect, an angry punch or panicked flight. But of course, there had been triumph, too, just for an instant, and he should have been ready when Andrew threw himself at him and wildly kissed his mouth.
And he really should have known that when Andrew pulled away, Ralph would be standing there, wrapped in a damp towel, his face dead-white under the red blotches at his cheekbones.
For the conclusion, continue to Morning After
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