Celestino is nursing a glass of wine at the bar, one drink with the football highlights, that's all, when Christophe Giacometti slides in beside him.
"Congratulations." Christophe eases onto the stool and props his elbows on the bar. "Are you celebrating?"
"Are you?" Celestino doesn't turn his head but he glances at Christophe in the mirror behind the bar. He's changed since the presser: hair carefully tousled, fresh mascara, dark red shirt open at his throat.
"I'm buying, anyway." Christophe signals to the bartender. "If you'll keep me company."
"You mean I shouldn't be drinking alone?" Celestino does look over now.
"I mean you should be drinking with me." Christophe leans in closer, sliding down on his elbow so he's looking up at Celestino through those ridiculous eyelashes.
It's almost cute, or it was the first time Christophe tried this, but Celestino doesn't mind a free drink from someone who at least pretends to look interested while he explains why Montella is going to save AC Milan this season.
He takes his time over it, talking like he expects Christophe to follow every detail, and by the time he's on his blow-by-blow of the last Derby, Christophe's eyes are glazed over, even though he's still doggedly nodding and fluttering his eyelashes.
"And who do you support?" Celestino asks.
"In the Super League, FC Basel," Christophe says. "Zuffi's been doing well this season."
This really is cute; he's actually prepared. "How many caps does he have?"
It's impressive how quickly Christophe hides the look of consternation that flashes across his face. "Another drink?" he says.
Celestino laughs. He shouldn't encourage Christophe. But what else has he got to do right now? "To pay you back, I won't make you talk about football any more."
"Then let's talk about you." Christophe reaches over and runs two fingers over Celestino's wrist.
"Not this again," Celestino says. "Do you really think I want to be a notch on your bed post?"
Christophe doesn't take his fingers away. "Maybe I want to be a notch on yours."
That's a chat line Christophe hasn't tried before; he's ready with more than just football facts. Celestino takes Christophe's hand and moves it off his wrist, down onto the bar.
"Pretend I'm a skate groupie," Christophe says. "And I waited for you to leave the rink so I could give you my hotel keycard."
Celestino can't deny he indulged himself a ... few ... times with fans. Back when he was young and stupid. He shakes his head and sips his wine.
"I've been your fan for a long time." Christophe pulls out his phone. "Here." He swipes through a collection of photos of Celestino over the years, on the ice, off the ice.
Celestino hasn't seen most of these for years; he's not much for nostalgia. He must be just sixteen in one, still a year out from his senior debut, and trying hard to look adult for the cameras. "Your move is 'creepy stalker'?"
"This one." Christophe taps the screen and passes over the phone. It's a video, a clip of Celestino skating in 1997. The costume is embarrassing now but Celestino can still feel the satisfaction of that quad toe triple toe combination, back when that was a huge accomplishment. He can still feel the force of the landing through his body. He can hear the screams of the audience.
"I saw that on TV," Christophe says. "Before I'd even started skating."
"I don't want to think about how young you were then."
Christophe puts his hand onto Celestino's thigh. "What you should think about is how young I am now and how well that's going to work for you."
"If you're such a fan," Celestino says, "you know that I prefer women." He doesn't bother making Christophe take away his hand; it's better to just ignore his moves.
"Yes, and I prefer Scotch," Christophe says. "But I'll drink vodka if it's there."
"And I'm just here."
Christophe slides a glass across to Celestino. "You're not vodka. You're single malt whisky."
It's not Celestino's usual but he brings the glass up and gives it a swirl. The nose is dark and peaty and when he sips the whisky evaporates in a flash of fire on his tongue.
"That's you," Christophe says. "That long smoky burn." He moves his hand around onto the inside of Celestino's leg and slides it a bit further up. "I'd like to taste it."
Celestino drinks the rest of his wine and maybe it's a bit like Christophe, brasher than he'd like but plummy and interesting. Charming in a way that's less about sexy posturing and more about relentless optimism.
But he can think a young man is charming without sleeping with him.
He stands up and Christophe's hand falls away. But Christophe slides off the stool and stands too, close enough that Celestino gets a whiff of cologne, and fingers the lapel of Celestino's jacket. "My room, then?"
"I never thought we'd see the day," Celestino says, "that you can't smoke in a bar in China."
An outdoor smoking area is no place to enjoy a good cigar but Celestino takes out a Montecristo anyway. Because he's celebrating. He pats his pockets for his cutter and the matches he got from the front desk.
There's a heat lamp overhead but the air is still icy. Cigarette butts overflow the metal ashtrays and litter the pavement. It's dark, or it would be if they weren't in the middle of the city, and the sounds of traffic are far too close.
Christophe doesn't even have a jacket but he followed Celestino out anyhow, one hand on Celestino's shoulder, and Celestino didn't bother trying to shake him off.
A gust of wind comes up and Celestino faces into a corner where the wall juts out to light up. The first match burns down to his fingertips before he can get the cigar going and he has to try another.
When he turns back, Christophe is standing close to him, angled so he's looking into Celestino's face. Celestino takes a draw on the Montecristo and holds the smoke in his mouth a bit longer than usual before letting it drift away into the dirty Beijing air. Better than whisky, smooth and spicy, a hint of burn at the back of his throat.
Christophe doesn't say anything, just watches Celestino smoke for a few minutes, while Celestino looks out at the city lights and wonders what the next move will be.
Then Christophe steps closer. "Share?" He holds out his hand.
Celestino glances over. Christophe's cheeks are red with cold but he's still giving Celestino the eye. Tenacious, then, not just bored. Celestino passes him the cigar, gently so the ash won't fall.
He watches Christophe pull on it and let the smoke curl out from between his lips, heavier than the frosty breath that follows. Christophe hands the cigar back and Celestino is surprised he doesn't let their fingers brush.
They pass the Montecristo back and forth for a while. "It's cold," Christophe says and leans in close to Celestino, still not touching, but near enough that Celestino can tell he's shivering.
Brat. "Did this ploy even work when you were sixteen?"
Christophe blows out smoke. "Not when I tried it on you."
Celestino snorts. He can't remember but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. He's practised in looking away from skaters and their puppy crushes. But he usually notices what he has to ignore.
"I was seventeen, actually." Christophe hands Celestino the cigar and this time their fingers do touch. "In Marseille. Rinkside after a public practice. I sidled up to you and made a big fuss about forgetting my jacket and being so cold."
"Did I even look over?"
"My coach yanked me away before you could," Christophe says. "But what I really wanted to do was this." And he steps half behind Celestino, pressing his long body into Celestino's back, one arm hooked around Celestino's shoulder.
He's still shivering, shaking against Celestino, even though his body feels warm. Celestino leans forward and rolls the ash off the end of the cigar. He's cold too, his fingers are starting to burn, and he knows if he were alone, he would have gone back inside ten minutes ago. "Someone is going to see this and take a picture," he says.
"I hope they do," Christophe says, his mouth against Celestino's ear, that deep-voiced murmur even warmer than Christophe's chest and thighs.
And Christophe is right: prefer doesn't mean never. It doesn't even mean not tonight. And Celestino knows that's it's been yes from the moment he let Christophe follow him out of the bar. But he doesn't think Christophe knows that yet.
So he lets Christophe hang there for five more minutes while he smokes down the cigar, letting the cold into his bones until it's going to take Christophe's body in his bed to fully warm him up again.
When he steps away, there's a moment when he starts to turn back towards Christophe, when he can't quite help himself. But he walks forward instead and Christophe is the one who follows.
The warmth in the lobby is a blessing and Celestino resettles his jacket on his shoulders, letting out the cold trapped between the layers. He presses the elevator button and glances at Christophe in the mirror. He's standing easily, cockily even, but Celestino can see it in the set of his shoulders and the turn of his mouth: he's not sure he's going to pull this off.
They step in together but a few people push between them. "What floor?" a man says to Celestino.
Celestino doesn't answer. Instead, he looks at Christophe. And the realisation that blossoms on Christophe's face is more arousing than any of his come-ons.
"Eighteen," Christophe says. And he looks back at Celestino, gives him the slow up and down, then the head tilt and eye fuck while the door closes.
Goddamn eyelashes. Celestino itches to push everyone aside, pin Christophe against the elevator wall, and take what he wants. Instead, he stares back and watches the corners of Christophe's mouth creep upward while the elevator stops at every floor.
"I thought I might have to sit through a poker game next," Christophe says when his door closes behind them. "Do you want another drink?" He turns on the bedside lamp and kills the overhead lights. There's a bottle cooling in an ice bucket and wine glasses on the bureau. A silk robe draped over a chair.
All very deliberate and Celestino wonders if it's for him or if Christophe just likes to be prepared. He wonders if Christophe has a whole script he's going to work through. But he doesn't feel like waiting to find out.
"Come here," he says. "I'm cold."
Christophe strides across the room, not even pretending he's not eager. He slides his hands inside Celestino's jacket and locks his arms around Celestino's waist.
They're eye to eye, close enough that Christophe's features are a little blurred. But he's not a menu Celestino has to read. Celestino puts his arms around Christophe, one hand between his shoulder blades and the other on the back of his neck, fingers moving up into the close-cut hair. He rests his cheek against Christophe's, smelling the smoke from the cigar and a faint whiff of cologne; it's smoky too, like he's dabbed that whisky on his pulse points.
It's a delicious moment, both of them poised before they begin, letting their bodies warm each other, twisting up the tension. Celestino almost wishes they'd taken longer getting here.
Then Christophe turns his head and nuzzles Celestino's cheek, not quite kissing, his scruff of beard rasping against Celestino's face. His hands are moving under Celestino's jacket, stroking his back and sides, slowly, with fingers that feel chilly even through Celestino's shirt.
A shiver goes through Celestino, followed by a flare of heat, warmth from the contact and the match strike of arousal. He pulls Christophe tight against him, chest and hips and thighs.
"Can I undress you?" Christophe says and touches Celestino's cheek with the tip of his tongue.
"Don't pretend to be so polite." Celestino moves back so Christophe can slide the jacket off his shoulders. But before Christophe can get his hands on Celestino's shirt collar, Celestino hooks an arm around his neck and drags his face in close and kisses him.
Christophe sighs and gives Celestino his tongue, kissing back with a slow rhythm and an open mouth, lazy kisses, as though he could go all night just on this.
Celestino doesn't want to go all night but he takes the time to savour the slide of his tongue along Christophe's, the faint acrid after-taste of the Montecristo. Christophe's hands on his face, stroking the corner of Celestino's mouth with one thumb.
He runs one hand down Christophe's back and over the curve of his ass – every skater's best feature, male or female – and strokes it along with the kiss.
Christophe moves his hand into Celestino's hair and Celestino wants to roll his eyes. It's the same with everyone: straight for the hair tie. But he doesn't stop Christophe from freeing his hair and running his fingers through it while he kisses Celestino's jaw.
"Put it back when you're done playing," Celestino says and feels Christophe laugh against his throat.
"Maybe I'll braid it for you," Christophe says. He finger-parts Celestino's hair and lets it fall over Celestino's shoulders, then runs the chilly tip of one finger down the hollow of Celestino's throat, past his collar. His hands stumble on the shirt buttons.
It's probably just the cold. Celestino could save him the trouble, but instead he moves his hands to Christophe's hips and waits until Christophe slips the buttons open, one by one, and spreads the shirt loose over Celestino's chest.
"You should always look like this," Christophe says and steps back to look Celestino up and down. "I want to take a picture."
"If I need a stylist, I'll hire one." Celestino slips off the shirt and drapes it over a chair. "Just take off your clothes." He unzips his boots, pulls off his socks. Keeps watching Christophe.
And Christophe doesn't take his eyes off of Celestino as he works his own buttons open, drops his shirt on the floor, steps out of his trousers.
Celestino grabs Christophe before he can hook his underwear over his hips. He pulls Christophe back in for another kiss and so he can run his fingers over Christophe's bare skin, warming finally, smooth and taut and lovely.
Christophe does the same, moving his palms over Celestino's back, then around to unbuckle Celestino's belt and slide his trousers down. He slides himself down, Celestino lets him go, and rubs his cheek against Celestino's half-hard cock through the fabric of his underwear.
Celestino's cock jerks, a wave of arousal floods over him, and he reaches down to put his hand on Christophe's head. Christophe mouths at Celestino's cock until he's erect and breathing hard. Then Christophe looks up, blinking. "Do you want?"
Those fucking eyelashes. Of course Celestino wants. And an unreciprocated blow job would definitely be the true fan experience. But he could have had that without coming all the way up here.
He moves his hand to Christophe's face and rubs his thumb across Christophe's mouth as Christophe's tongue flicks out to catch it. "Give me my hair tie," Celestino says, "and don't be in such a hurry."
Christophe stands, leaving his underwear behind, and puts his arms around Celestino's neck. He looks into Celestino's eyes as he bundles Celestino's hair and threads it through the tie, more smoothly than Celestino is used to.
"Bed, then," Christophe says, with a smile that's more bright than sultry, and his thumbs in the waistband of Celestino's underwear. Celestino lets him slide it away. Lets him pull Celestino to the bed and push him down, back against the headboard, and climb on after.
Lets Christophe kiss his mouth and drag his hands down Celestino's body, shoulders to knees. Curl his fingers in Celestino's chest hair and rub his thumb over Celestino's nipple. It's good and Celestino enjoys it. And he gets it, he's supposed to lie back and be admired. The focus is nice, the look on Christophe's face, like it wasn't just a line, like Celestino really does mean something to him.
But Celestino is in bed with a hot piece and so, instead, he takes Christophe in his arms, the whole sweet length of him, rolls him over, and presses him down, all of Celestino's weight full on top of him.
"My turn to play with you," Celestino says, both hands on Christophe's face.
Christophe arches against him and his mouth falls open, like he knows this is where he's supposed to banter back but has forgotten what to say.
That must be a rarity for Christophe and it's so much better than any gushing words could be. It sinks into Celestino, the burn of arousal straining all through him.
He leans back and looks down at Christophe, at the flush along his cheekbones, at the rise and fall of his chest, the sketch of light hair over his breastbone.
"Do you want to take a picture?" Christophe finds his banter finally. "Or maybe tie me up?"
"You really love attention," Celestino says. He does want to take a picture but instead he pinches Christophe's nipple, already hard, rolling it between his fingers, and watching Christophe's face to see his reaction.
He feels Christophe's shiver first, hears his indrawn breath, then sees Christophe close his eyes. Celestino leans down and takes the other nipple in his mouth, teasing with the tip of his tongue, then sucking, kissing, while he rubs the first with his thumb. Christophe groans and shakes under him. His hands move over Celestino's shoulders, on Celestino's head, like he's searching for something.
Celestino remembers one woman who could come just from this much attention and he wonders if he could take Christophe all the way. He backs off and blows on the nipple, lightens his touch on the other. Christophe squirms, pressing up into Celestino's touch, but Celestino just backs off further, Christophe's hands grabbing at his shoulders.
"Fuck," Christophe says. "Don't stop." He looks up at Celestino, eyes pleading, fingers tightening. "Come on."
It's so gratifying, so arousing, and Celestino takes one swift biting kiss before he complies. He traces spirals over Christophe's chest, barely touching his skin and slowly tightening until he's grazing the edges of Christophe's nipples and Christophe is digging his fingers into Celestino's biceps. He brushes his fingers over the top, waits while Christophe groans, brushes again, just a little more pressure. Then he pinches both nipples, harder than he meant to.
"Oh, god," Christophe says in a strangled voice and blinks hard. "Let's—" He sits up and catches Celestino's mouth, sucking at his lower lip and pulling Celestino's hands away from his chest, holding him by the wrists. "I'm not ready yet."
"Just think about FC Basel," Celestino says and while Christophe laughs, Celestino frees one hand and moves it up Christophe's leg, onto his thigh. "Flex." He runs his fingers over the muscle, squeezes as much as he can fit into his hand, strokes up and down. "Nice," he says.
Christophe pulls Celestino's hand to his face and kisses the inside of his wrist with a slow swipe of his tongue. "Do you want to fuck them? I was going to blow you but..."
A good slow thigh job sounds about perfect to Celestino right now. "I do," he says. "Here, like..." He settles himself on his back, shoulders propped up on the pillows.
Christophe kneels up next to him. "I really didn't get enough time to play." He crouches down and takes Celestino's cock in his hand, squeezes gently, kisses the tip like he's kissing Celestino's mouth.
Celestino's cock jerks and his hips arch. Fuck. Maybe he should just let Christophe suck him after all. But Christophe leaves off and reaches for the lubricant and Celestino figures he can probably get that blow job any time.
"Maybe next time I'll tie you up," Christophe says. He slicks up the insides of his thighs, slowly, conspicuously, like he's posing for an audience. "Maybe in the morning."
"Come here," Celestino says. He spreads his legs and holds out his arms. They settle in together, face to face, Christophe's legs inside Celestino's hips, Celestino's cock tight between Christophe's thighs and hands on his waist. Christophe braces his hands on the bed, taking some of his own weight, and they start to move, apart and together, apart and together.
"Can you ... tighter," Celestino says and Christophe clenches his muscles, looking down at Celestino and breathing hot breath onto his face.
"I thought about every way I'd do it with you," Christophe says. "When I was seventeen and hadn't done it very many ways yet. Get on my knees and suck you in a deserted hallway. Your hand pushing me deeper on your cock."
Celestino wants to close his eyes but he's caught by Christophe, by the friction of Christophe's thighs against his cock, by the sweat beading on Christophe's forehead, the deep rasp in Christophe's voice.
"Wait for you in your hotel room and ride you while you looked at me. Like you're looking at me now."
Thank fucking god Celestino had no idea what was going through the brat's mind back then. Thank god Christophe never actually tried any of this.
Because Celestino can remember Christophe at seventeen. Tall and spare and hot-eyed, prowling and posing, always showing as much skin as he could get away with. If Celestino really had met Christophe in a deserted hallway, on his knees and pretty, he doesn't know for sure he would have walked away. "Shut up," he says. "Shut up."
"Lying on your chest while you jacked me, your weight pressing against my back, your whole body wrapped around me."
Celestino pulls Christophe's head down and kisses him, sucks on his mouth so he'll just stop talking. Christophe pushes in his tongue, same tempo as his hips, eyes still open and his saliva running down into Celestino's mouth.
This is not the slow comfortable fuck and Celestino is so wound up, so fucking there, nearly there, his whole body stretching tight like it hasn't in so long. He can't picture anything boring to make him last, he can't even want to, just wraps his leg over Christophe's knees, his arm across Christophe's back. And jams his hips and closes his eyes and comes, wet and messy over both their thighs, swearing into Christophe's mouth, around his tongue.
Christophe drops heavy on top of him and moves his mouth against Celestino's neck while Celestino catches his breath.
"My god," Celestino says. And he means thank you but he doesn't think Christophe needs to hear it. He wipes his arm across his forehead, smearing away the perspiration, then puts his arm back around Christophe.
Christophe starts to move against him, rubbing his own hard cock up over Celestino's hip bone. "Just give me a few minutes," he says.
Celestino lets Christophe rock into him. It's pretty much what he intended, really, because, hot as Christophe is, Celestino doesn't really enjoy cock. And his occasional encounters with men tend to be a lot more about Celestino's cock then theirs. He's been working around Christophe's all night and Christophe hasn't tried to make Celestino touch him.
So Celestino can just lie here while Christophe gets himself off, run his hand through Christophe's damp hair, stretch his body and relax. Or.
Or. He takes a deep breath and rolls Christophe off of him.
Christophe looks up, frowning but resigned. "Okay," he says. "I'll just be in the shower."
"No," Celestino says. "Here." He scoots up so he's sitting against the headboard. Spreads his legs. Takes Christophe's shoulder. "Here."
Christophe's face lights up, just like it did in the elevator, and he scoots too, until he's sitting between Celestino's legs, leaning back against Celestino's chest.
Celestino wraps one arm around Christophe's shoulders, pulls him in. And takes Christophe's cock in his other hand. He squeezes it, hot against his palm, rubs his thumb over the head to spread the fluid down. He presses his cheek against Christophe's temple. And jacks him.
Christophe sighs and puts his hands on Celestino's thighs. "I thought about this a lot," he says. "You in my room. A lot."
"Shut up about that," Celestino says. He puts his hand on Christophe's throat, raises his chin, turns his head so they can kiss. Keeps moving his hand over Christophe's cock and it's okay if that's not his favourite thing because right now Christophe moving in his arms, Christophe biting Celestino's lip, pulling at Celestino's hair tie again, the bastard — that's Celestino's favourite thing.
But his arm is getting tired and Christophe is probably thinking about Zuffi and his caps so Celestino trails his hand down and brushes Christophe's nipple again. He plucks it up, rubs it as Christophe groans into his mouth, then pinches. Christophe's legs scrabble on the sheets. He pulls Celestino's hair and comes all over Celestino's hand.
"You," Christophe says, when he's dropped back against Celestino's chest. "You. Thank you."
You too, Celestino wants to say but instead he kisses Christophe's cheek and wipes his hand on Christophe's thigh.
"One more thing," Christophe says.
"No pictures," Celestino says. "And no autographs."
"Mark me." Christophe leans his head over so his throat is exposed. "Right here." He touches the base of his neck, where it meets his shoulder. "Please."
"I'm not playing into any more of your adolescent fantasies."
"No," Christophe says. "My exhibition costume suits me better if I look a little used."
Celestino laughs. It probably is the adolescent fantasy but he sucks at Christophe's skin anyhow, tasting Christophe's sweat. He gets his teeth into it, ignoring Christophe's wince, until he's sure it must be bruising. "You're a disgrace," he says.
Christophe explores the mark with his fingers, smiling and tipping his head back to be kissed.
Celestino leans down to meet him. And, for just a moment, considers staying until morning.
They clean up a little. Celestino gets another cigar from his jacket pocket and they smoke it in bed, even though it's a non-smoking room, using one wine glass for the ash and taking turns sipping from the other.
"If you won't stay," Christophe says. "Maybe you'll come back tomorrow."
"I think there's a poker game," Celestino says and rolls away the ash. But maybe, on the way, there will be a deserted hallway.